The Politics of Jesus and His Church – Part 1

I have been accused of hardly bothering about Ghanaian politics (just kidding. It wasn’t an accusation but just innocent questions from some friends). They observe that I seem to share and write a lot on the church, Jesus and Christianity in general, and only sparingly on Ghanaian politics. I want to explain why, but I’ll do that in the next post. That explanation however is dependent on making sure my readers understand where I’m coming from theologically, and one such theological angle is what I want to address here. And this is the summary of what I’m abut to say – that I believe that for centuries, many Christians have missed a vital clue to understanding Jesus and his kingdom, and as a result do not see when they are letting their nationality win over their faith (by the way the word nationality here can be replaced by many others like political ideology, political party, tribe, language, race, social status, economic status etc. They suffer the same fate). What results is what Peter Enns calls “The Messiah Complex”. I’ll use a particular discussion we had at our house church lately to illustrate the point.

Who Do People Say I Am?

Recently we wrote a song from Psalm 2, and in the process our thoughts went to Matth 16:13-17. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v 13), and among many answers, Peter responded that Jesus is “The Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v 16). Jesus blesses Peter, and says he could only have known that through revelation by Yahweh himself. Now in other bibles, the word “Christ” is used instead of “Messiah” in v 16, but I’m glad for the choice of words of the NIV 2012. Christ is the Greek form of Messiah, which both mean “The Anointed One”. At the time of Jesus however, the dominant language in Galilee and Judea was Aramaic and some Hebrew, but not Greek. Therefore logically the word used there would not have been the Greek version. But I digress.

I have heard many sermons on this, including one a few months ago from a friend, including sadly from some Christian apologists. Time and time again, most people simply assume that Jesus was commending Peter for realizing that he was divine – aka he was the second person of the Trinity or “God the Son”, when that could not have been what he meant. I have written elsewhere on why the NT usage of “Son of God” originally did not mean Jesus was divine, so I will not go into details here. Note that I do believe that Jesus is divine, but I also realize that this continuous association of “Son of God” with the divine Jesus displays a wider problem within Christendom – for too long many Christians haven’t taken the political implications of calling Jesus “Lord” and “King” seriously. Many Christians have divinized and spiritualized away everything about Jesus, and therefore have left their political passions to be dictated by our worldly leaders today. The early church fought against the heresy of docetism – the belief that Jesus was either not really human or that his divine nature superseded his human nature – and yet somehow many have come full circle when they focus on only the divine Jesus and ignore (albeit giving it some lip service), the human king – the Messiah. As the learned NT Wright puts it

It is only recently that it has been widely acknowledged, for instance, that the phrase “son of God” in many New Testament writings does not automatically mean “the second person of the Trinity”, but is a title which, to a first-century Jew, would have carried messianic rather than “divine” overtones” – NT Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God.

Fundamentalism normally jumps from the word “Christ” not to first-century meanings of “Messiah” but to the divinity of Jesus, which the New Testament establishes on quite other grounds”- NT Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God.

So even though every bible translation has it’s own foibles, I’ll say kudos to the scholars behind the 2012 NIV for such a translation choice. But the question is what does it matter if son of God has “messianic rather than divine overtones”? How does that affect us politically?

A Messiah is a Political Animal

My father introduced me to Handel’s Messiah when I was young, but my love for it has grown in leaps and bounds in recent times, more due to the scriptural groundings of the songs than simply their melodic value. I’m sure my wife must be getting tired of hearing Handel’s Messiah playing in the car repeatedly. Well, too bad for her.

I’m enthralled by how Charles Jennens came up with the words and George Frederic Handel put them to music to create such a wonderful oratorio to tell the story of the kingship of Jesus so beautifully. Listening to “Why do the nations” led me back to Ps 2.

Reflecting on it again, I notice many things.

  1. It speaks of “The Lord” aka Yahweh and “His Anointed” aka Messiah. Two distinct people – one empowering the other.

  2. Both Yahweh and his Messiah speak. Yahweh declares his unfettered support for the king he has installed in Zion. (v 4-6)

  3. The Messiah recounts Yahweh adopting him as his son (v 7)

  4. He mentions Yahweh having given him the nations as his inheritance and power and dominion over all the kings (v 8-11). That reminds me of a certain Jewish Messiah who told his disciples “All power and authority has been given to me, therefore …” blah blah blah. Hmm…

  5. Everyone is required to submit to him (“Kiss his son, or he will be angry”), and those who seek refuge in him will be blessed (v 12). Apparently that Jewish Messiah told his disciples to make more people like themselves who will “obey” him. Hmm…

Short, but poignant psalm. This Psalm is the clearest indication that calling Jesus Messiah is not equal to calling him God, again not because Jesus is not God, but because that’s not what Messiah or Christ meant.

But if all power has been given to this Messiah, what is he supposed to do with this power? Care only about our spiritual destiny by carrying us all off to heaven and leave this world behind, or do what an earthly king is supposed to do – administer the world rightly? Let’s look at a Messiah’s raison d’etre – his goal, his manifesto from another psalm.

In Ps 72, the Psalmist prays that God strengthen his royal son so he may achieve his tasks – his tasks of maintaining justice and speaking on behalf of the disadvantaged, including the poor, fatherless and afflicted, of rewarding righteous behaviour and punishing wrong. These are the same things that one will expect of any political world leader, not so? Interestingly v 17 links the task of the Messiah to the call of Abraham, showing that it is in him that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants will be fulfilled. Obviously here we see a Messiah who must be involved in the earthly issues of how to put food on the table, how to work against inequity, greed, abuse and violence. This is a very earthy Messiah. This is a very political one.

And how does this the Jewish Messiah from Nazareth achieve his manifesto? By calling unto himself a people who are washed and cleansed and set apart for him, and giving them the task to show the world what his kingdom is like – to be with the lost, the poor, the outcast, the oppressed and to make them know and experience the difference between his kingdom and he kingdoms of this world. This people he calls his “church” – the elect (1 Pe 1:1; 2:9). This is not surprising, because Yahweh did the same – calling a nation called Israel to be the light to the nations and calling them his elect (Ex 19:5-6). And in both ways it’s the same – the people are called not just to tell the world what to do, but to show the world through living it out.

And yet, walk the streets of Accra, in a country with about 70% Christian population, and ask people if Jesus was a political figure, or cared about politics in any way, shape or form, and the answer you will get 90% of the time is NO. Instead you will receive the standard answer – Jesus came to die for our sins, and he said “his kingdom is not of this world”, so his only usefulness is to the spiritual salvation of man.

You can see why in Ghanaian Christendom circles then, Jesus’ beatitude “Blessed Are the Poor In Spirit” is interpreted as blessings on those who know the depravity of their sin. As Christopher J.H. Wright puts it, it seems that somehow between the pages of Malachi (OT) and Matthew (NT), Yahweh who was so particular in his injunctions on how to care for the poor, oppressed, fatherless and widow in the OT, has totally forgotten that these people exist in the NT, and now only cares about the destiny of their souls.

How Did We Get Here?

The early church however, was very intentional in upholding and working to actualize Jesus’s kingship over the world in their times, not just in a future disembodied reality. They took his injunctions like the sermon on the mount and other such places quite seriously, whiles also acknowledging that he was more than just a king, but was also in some way equal to God. It is primarily this stance – that there is no king but Jesus – which caused them so much suffering and death at the hands of the brutal Roman empire. If it was a simple question of going to heaven, why would that ruffle the political figures?

And although there were temptations to budge (and some Christians did give in to some of these temptations), the floodgates burst open when a certain Emperor Constantine decided to adopt Christianity as his religion and force it on everybody else in the 4th century. Suddenly there was very little suffering for listening to Jesus instead of Caesar. The leaders of the church, to keep from critiquing the usually greedy, violent and abusive behaviour of the Emperors and their governments (to different degrees, traits of every human government this day), adopted one of the most easily abused methods of reading the bible – allegorical readings aka finding spiritual symbolism even in plain, simple commands.

This meant that clear statements of Jesus regarding how his church must carry forward his vision of a kingdom NOW in waiting for a kingdom FUTURE, were allegorized away into spiritual meanings of how Jesus would reign in the future whiles the political powers could do what they wanted in the present. The church relaxed both in its loyalty to Jesus and in living out his example by itself, and became consultant to the state on morality. The Gospels were robbed of their power, and over the years have been treated as toothless documents whose purpose is to serve as a mine for moral platitudes, children’s stories, guidance on how to go to heaven and in modern times, motivational statements. Allegorization and Greco-Roman philosophy led the church to depart from the Old Testament vision of a new heaven and a new earth reiterated in the New Testament, to a focus on heaven and hell. And the effects of giving our political allegiance to worldly kings whiles we concentrate on worshiping the divine Jesus are obvious through the tracks of history.

  • In loyalty to political, social and economic interests, Christians have engaged in 400 years of slavery, justifying it by appealing to the bible, ignoring king Jesus’s manifesto on justice and respect for fellow human. Even the slavery of the Old Testament could in no way be compared to this one. American Christians had a full-scale civil war between the north and the south over the right to keep slaves. Not only was the country divided, even Christian denominations were divided because of support for or against slavery. Ironically all this happened while there was a “Great Awakening” even amongst soldiers on the battlefield, believing they have received “salvation” and a ticket to heaven when they die.

  • In loyalty to their political leaders, Christians have participated in war and violence against their fellow being, including burning millions of Jews in the holocaust, in spite of king Jesus’s commands to love our enemies.

  • In loyalty to their nations, Christians have participated in abusive exploitation and colonization of countries to further the egos of worldly Emperors and kings, and have left continents like Africa divided and confused about their identities.

  • In loyalty to tribe, religious and ethnic identity, Christians are busy today hacking their fellow Moslem brothers up in the Central African Republic, ignoring the king who would rather die for his enemy.

  • The last straw has been loyalty to self. The influence of revivalism, with a message of “salvation” focused on one’s individual self without any clear sense of community, has spawned the prosperity Gospel, and today is wrecking havoc on already poor African Christians to the enrichment of a few “men of God”. Instead of the church community becoming the people we lay down our lives for (Mark 10:29-30), our personal goals and ambitions is now king.

History has shown it to be more than obvious – nature hates a vacuum. Whenever Christians have devoted themselves to an apolitical Jesus, they get quickly co-opted by the agenda of the powers – be they tribal, political, cultural, socio-economic or personal. Additionally, whenever Christians assume that Jesus’s political methods are like those of this world, there’s compromise and self-deception. This lopsided vision of Jesus only as “God the Son” is the vision that continues to drive much of African Christianity. The missionaries, with all their good intent, have left us with a Christianity that has succeeded in changing the god we worship, but not in changing our attitudes to follow in his ways. And not knowing and following in Yahweh’s ways is tantamount to not knowing him at all (Heb 3:10; Ps 103:7).

Conclusion

So let me wrap up by asking you to do a test on yourself.

  1. If you think “salvation” is all about forgiveness of sins – you’ve lost sight of the political Messiah.

  2. If you think the endgame is either heaven or hell – you have questions to answer about why your New Testament speaks of a resurrected body for a place that doesn’t need a body.

  3. If the term “Jesus is Lord” simply leads you to think of Jesus only as a divine being sitting on a throne instead of the real President or Prime Minister of your country or the world – you’re still in the divine-Jesus-only mode.

  4. If whiles reading the Gospels, the term “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven” leads you to think only of angels in the sky playing harps – you need to re-examine your eschatology.

Now that I’ve “cleared my throat” on who a Messiah truly is and what we might be missing in looking at Jesus only with divine glasses on, I can delve into Ghanaian politics in the next post. Suffice it to say that I won’t be pulling any punches on my observations on Ghanaian politics and what Jesus would make of the church’s attitude to politics today.

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According to Scriptures Pt 1 – Son of God

Wanted Jesus
Wanted Jesus

One of the problems that I have faced in communicating and discussing the word of God with other Christians is one finds that we have a lot of our definitions messed up. Words and phrases that meant one thing in biblical times have now come to mean different things altogether. At the least, the impact of these phrases have been reduced so we don’t see how profound they are. But at the worst, I find what I believe to be totally flawed understandings of phrases and words in the bible, upon which people are then able to construct all sorts of weird teaching.

This series of posts is my attempt to provide a clearer definition of some of these phrases that are so common in Christendom but which need to be clarified today. Some of these terms are “salvation”, “forgiveness of sins”, “new creation”, “son of God” and “kingdom of God/kingdom of Heaven”, and I will discuss some of them in no particular order. One thing needs to remain clear to the Christian though – when Paul used the phrase “according to scriptures” in 1 Cor 15:4, he was referring to the books we call the Old Testament, and mostly from the Greek translation of it (the Septuagint). The New Testament as we know it didn’t exist then, and was not where the prophecies about Jesus would be found. Note that the writers of the books of the New Testament were not Greeks, Romans, Ghanaians or Germans. They were Jews, and so the text is bound to reflect a Jewish worldview somewhat. If Christians are to understand very well where the terms and phrases we so love to use come from, we need to lay the ground work from what the writers themselves considered “scripture”, before getting ahead of ourselves.

Son of God?

Jesus calls himself (and is called by his disciples) “son of God”. Most good, devout, Sunday school taught Christians immediately understand this phrase to mean that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity i.e. he is a divine being from God and one with the Godhead. Let me state quite clearly here before I am accused of heresy that I side with a million and one Christians in the belief in Jesus’ divine nature and a belief in the Trinity. However, if we apply Paul’s litmus test aka according to the Old Testament – that is not what “son of God” means. What does it mean then?

The phrase “son of God”, “children of God” and “sons and daughters/people of God” has been used in many ways to denote a special election of God of a certain people or person. It is used to refer to the kings of this world here.

I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” (Ps 82:6-7)

It is used to refer to a particular king of the Jews called the Anointed one (the Messiah)

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. (2 Sam 7:12–14 cf. 1 Chron 17:11–14)

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed [Messiah] … He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’ I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father’ (Ps 2:2-7).

He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior. And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Ps 89:26-27)

And sometimes it is used to refer to the nation Israel itself, and the special kind of relationship between God and his chosen nation. The language of sonship and children vis-a-vis Israel is a language of special status, of election, a concept about which I’ve written elsewhere. Note that nowhere in the OT is anyone refered to as a “son of God/sons of God/people of God/sons and daughters of God” except kings of the world, the Messiah or Israel as a nation.

Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son” (Ex 4:22)

I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Lev 26:12). 2 Cor 6:18 expands this to mean “you will be my sons and daughters”.

Nowhere in all these usages are we seeing a divine, explicitly Trinitarian usage of the phrase “son of God”. The Jews of Jesus day were definitely looking forward to a Messiah descended from David who will come and restore their fortunes against their enemies, as expounded by the totality of the Psalms referenced above and a lot more, as well as the prophets. The fact that in Jesus, the king turned out to be not only human but divine was not what their understanding of Messiah was, and we can now look at the NT and see what I mean.

Son Of God in The Gospels

There are many usages of the phrase “son of God” recorded in the gospels, but the most poignant of them was at the trial of Jesus. The most important reason why the Sanhedrin council had to bring Jesus before Pilate was that the power to crucify a person was the preserve only of the Roman governor at the time. And if they simply went to the Roman governor and said “we don’t like this man’s teaching” or “he’s been criticizing us”, the best he would have done was to put him in jail for a few days and let him go (if he doesn’t end up throwing the case out of court in the first place). They needed a charge that was capital, and given the amount of rebellion that existed at the time and in previous years with the many previous “Messiahs” gone past, the only charge that will catch the attention of the governor was a charge of treason – treason because there was in fact a “King of the Jews” in the name of Herod appointed by the Romans. Any other person calling themselves “king” was attempting a coup d’etat, not only against Herod, but against his appointee – Rome. That was a crucifiable offence. Hear the Sanhedrin’s accusation.

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (Jn 19:7)

Now, Pilate obviously didn’t think they were saying Jesus was divine or the 2nd person of the trinity. Hear him.

But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” (Jn 18:39)

Here is your king,’ Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’ Shall I crucify your king?‘ Pilate asked. ”We have no king but Caesar,’ the chief priests answered. (Jn 19:14-15)

It is no surprise then that Pilate had the title “King of the Jews” hang on Jesus cross. And we also note that Jesus never denied that he was king of the Jews during his trial, for that is what Christ or Messiah actually means. The above passages show clearly what Jews meant by “son of God”. A few more examples from the Gospels will suffice.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1)

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”(Jn 1:49)

Note that his disciples did clearly recognize his claim to be the Anointed one. For example Jesus commended Peter for saying that Jesus was the Christ (the title Christ was Greek whiles Messiah was Jewish for the same thing – “Anointed One”), the “Son of the living God” (Mt 16:15-17), again referring to the title under discussion.

But, But, But …

Yes I know, Jesus DID say he was divine in may places, quite uncountable to mention. But until his death and resurrection, his disciples only understood him to be the Messiah, albeit one with some wonderful powers and gifts.

However, he was always challenging these disciples and other people (including his enemies) to see the Messiah as more than a mere human, quoting Ps 110 and saying that “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son (Mt 22:45)”? Here, Jesus is appealing to David saying “The Lord said to my Lord” signifie that whoever David was talking about was more than just his son.

But it is pretty obvious not only tracing it from the OT but in the gospels and in all Jewish understanding that although there were hints like Ps 110 that seemed to point to the Messiah being more than just a normal human being, Jews never understood “son of God” to mean a divine person, but rather God’s anointed King, just like Moses was God’s anointed prophet and Aaron God’s anointed priest.

After his death AND resurrection, his disciples now understood that Jesus was indeed divine and expressed that much throughout their words and writings in the New Testament. But they still used “son of God” in the Messianic sense of the expected descendant of David, as depicted by Paul in Rom 1:3-4 and 2 Tim 2:8.

But Are We Not Splitting Hairs Here?

That’s the obvious question. What’s the big deal afterall? And the answer is NO WE ARE NOT. As Jackson Wu, a Chinese missional theologian says “We must not misuse scripture to prove the truth … when we settle for what is merely true (that Jesus has a divine nature), we miss out on what the phrase [son of God] actually means.” It is obvious most Christians have confused the Trinitarian phrase “God the Son” with the Messianic phrase “Son of God”. And this is rather ironic given that the latter is explicitly written and expounded in scripture, whiles the former had to be deduced. I dare say that a misunderstanding of what “son of God” means has left room for 2 very serious errors.

The first is to seriously question the ground on which some Christians stand basing on a flawed understanding of the New Testament’s description of the church as “sons of God” to mean that Christians are somehow divine. Jews believed they were “sons of God” too, but never went as far as to consider themselves divine.

The second and even more tragic one for me is that because we have so “spiritualized” and “divinized” everything about Jesus, much of the church today has totally ignored the real human, earthy and here-and-now task that the Messiah and his followers (his church), empowered by the Spirit of God was supposed to achieve. Bringing good news to the poor, relief for the sick, hope to the fatherless, the widow and the stranger and of writing the wrongs in society – in short we have hammered on personal salvation, and left cosmic justice behind. I intend to take this up further down in the series, but when I read the Messianic Psalms, the prophets and the gospels the trend is clear – the Messiah’s task was a task of changing the world order spiritually, socially, economically and ecologically.

When all we care about is a divine Jesus, we will miss his kingly, this-worldly impact altogether.

The Parable of the Talents: Lessons for the Walk of Faith

The Parable of the Talents is one parable that today’s Christian must be digesting with alacrity. If well studied, it points to a lot of things that Jesus in his ministry had mentioned, but which we have ignored today. And the most painful deception in most Christians’ understanding of this parable is that it’s relates not to believers, but to unbelievers. I wish to turn the tables of our thinking and draw it’s profound implications to our attention. The story is recorded in Matthew 25:14-30.

Servants of Christ

The first and foremost and probably most fundamental point in this story is that the people who are given the talents to work with are called “servants” of the master. Now unless my understanding of the word servant is not right, a servant is a person who is bonded to serve his master. He has not the right to determine for himself what to do, and only listens for and obeys his master’s command. The clearest typology of this is us Christians. The implication of accepting someone as your lord is that you immediately become that person’s servant – which is exactly what we confess when we are born again. I think today’s fiercely independent Christian finds it hard to accept and walk in the conviction of servanthood to Christ.

Look at Paul’s introductory statement to the Romans church.

Ro 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God …

Hear what Christ says to his disciples:

Jn 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”.

The privilege of being called friends is Christ’s to give. Our duty however, is as servants to our Lord. Those that do not believe in Christ are not his servants, simply because he is not their Lord. We are, and we must learn to live as such.

Saved to Serve

As we have already established in my previous post, the purpose of we being called into the body of Christ through the free gift of grace is so that we may “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. And this is exactly the responsibility that the master gives to his servants in this parable. It is worth noting that he gives different amounts of talents to different servants – five, two and one. But have you wondered why he said the same thing to both the one who was given five talents and the one who was given two talents?

Mt 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness’”

Mt 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of may things. Come and and share your master’s happiness”.

The idea behind typing both responses to the servant with the five talents and that with two talents is to show you that the response to both is the same. But why? Hasn’t the one with 5 talents done more? Is the master not fair? Au contraire, both have returned 100% profit on the investment, and so both should be commended the same way.

The third servant is called wicked and lazy (v. 26). Of course we all agree that he was lazy, but why will his master classify him as “wicked”? Why will Jesus call some of us his servants wicked? Simply because contrary to Eph 2:10, this servant did not do the good works prepared in advance for him to do. Look at what Malachi classifies as wicked and you’ll see why.

Mal 4:18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

And Jesus’ classification of the vines that bear fruit and those that do not.

Jn 15:1-2;8 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Again, the reference is to branches that are already within the vine. In short, we Christians, not any other class of people. Once we are born again, we become a branch within Christ the tree. And to prove ourselves true and faithful disciples, Christ expects us to bear “much” fruit.

Calibre of Fruit

What is the kind of fruit we are to bear or the good works we are to do? Well, there are no listed “good works” in the NT for us, though there are many references to people having done what could be classified as good works. I have come to believe however, that there is only one underlying principle that help us classify what we do as good works – works done in the love of God.
Eph 1:4-5 (4)For he chose in him before the creation of the world to be the holy and blameless in his sight. In love, (5)he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Note the KJV way of putting this verse 4.

Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

A careful analysis of both versions of the same passage will tell you that our adoption as sons and our holiness and blamelessness is gained through Agape love. This kind of love can only be given us by the Holy Spirit of Him who wants us to love to the same measure as He has loved us.

Ro 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he gives us.

Do you see why Jesus Christ gave the commandment to love and why Paul calls it the law of Christ?

Jn 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Gal 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, in in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

And have you ever wondered why the introductory sections in most of Paul’s letters express either a prayer or a gladness that love may be manifested among the brethren?

Phil 1:9-10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

1 Th 1:2-3 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Th 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love everyone has for each other is increasing.

Col 1:3-5 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven …

… Not the faith and love that we exhibit by warming church pews everyday and shaking three hands at the end of the service, but one that tells us “we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn 3:16). As a little point of digression, I think it’s a bit ironic (if not intentional) that the two passages that clearly depict the measure of love God has for us and the measure of love he expects from us are all in some Jn 3:16 form i.e. Jn 3:16 and 1 Jn 3:16.

The Importance of Works

It is vital to understand the principle that works done after our initial belief in Jesus is the only thing that guarantees us “an inheritance among the saints” (Ac 20:32). This understanding underscored every effort of the apostles of old and was a point of exhortation to all whom they came into contact with.

1 Thess 2:19-20 For what is our hope,, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory.

2 Ti 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to those who have longed for his appearing.

Paul speaks of those whom he has won for Christ and whom he has worked with in Thessalonia as his “crown” that he will glory before Christ with. And here is one reason why we need works of our own to “glory” before Christ.

Rev 19:7-8 Let us rejoice and be glad, and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was give her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

If the fine linen of the bride is made up of “righteous acts” of the saints, and you have none, do you expect to be among the bride? Note that in all the messages to the seven churches in Rev, Christ always said “I know your deeds”, not “I know your confession of me”. However, he promises good things to those who overcome. Overcome what? I’ll leave that to your pondering but I guess we’ve already passed over those waters.

Judging the Works

First of all, the church will be judged separately from the world in two stages. As the apostle Peter says,

1 Pe 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

I think it is time that Christians took a second look at the Parable of the Weeds and the Parable of the Net carefully. It paints a picture which can be quite frightening for some of us Christians. Note in the parable of the weeds that the wheat is planted and the enemy comes to plant weeds among the good ones. However, when harvest time comes, the wheat is harvested from among the weeds and sent for storage, whiles the weeds are gathered to be put in the fire. This paints a picture of faithful and unfaithful Christians. The angels will do a separation of these, and the destination of the unfaithful is declared as the lake of fire. It is important to note that in Christ’s explanation he said the field was the world.

Christ is not interested in judging the world when he comes the first time. He is interested in picking those who are faithful to him. And to those who are unfaithful, there is no second chance. They will be thrown straight into the lake of fire. It will seem then that it is better for those of the world who do not receive Christ. At least they will go through the judgement of the second resurrection. This same picture is painted by the Parable of the Net, and again by the Parable of the Talents under discussion. The servant who had one talent was not considered “wicked” because he had spent the money, but because he did not do anything with it. Christians who do not walk in deeds according to the will of their Father will find themselves in very dire straights on the day of Christ’s return.

The second form of judgment of the Church is a judgment of quality, and is depicted in 2 Co 5:10 and 1 Co 3:12-15.

2 Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Co 3:12-15 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

The first passage mentions being judged “for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”. This is a judgment of our deeds while on earth, and whether they were done according to the will of God or whether they were done in the flesh.

The second passage talks about the judgment process itself, and points out that it is quality that counts. Those whose works are of gold, silver or precious stones will be rewarded with the inheritance of being an heir in the coming kingdom of Christ, and will rule with him when he returns to the earth(Rev 20:1-6). Those whose work are of wood, straw or hay will not be considered a part of that inheritance, but will only be subjects in Christ’s kingdom. They would have “entered” the kingdom (Mk 9:47), but would not reign in it(Ro 8:17).

Let me give you a scenario. Supposing two men reach heaven, one carrying a very small box of gold, and the other carrying a high and mighty pile of wood, representing their work. Now they both appear before the judgment seat of Christ and their work is tested by fire. I guess we all know what will happen. But the latter person is what modern Christians are striving to be like, not the former. I shudder to think of whether today’s icons of Christianity will even make it at all to the judgment seat and what the quality of their work will be like.

Then again, we have work to do to make sure we are part of those that bring in gold, silver or precious stones because, nothing else is of more worth than ruling the physical and spiritual world with Christ. Make sure you are a part of it.

WHY THE CHURCH TODAY IS NOT THE CHURCH CHRIST WANTS

 

Mt 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

 

Jn 17:20-24 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you loved me.

 

Often times I’ve shared my worry about the total powerlessness and disunity of the church today. It had so baffled my mind that for a while I was very confused. The question I’d been asking myself (and most genuine Christians do) was is this the church that Christ is coming for?

 

The mark of a man is determined not by his knowledge of the truth, but his reaction when confronted with the truth. My personal search for the truth has led me to believe firmly that the church today is in no way what Christ is coming for and I’ll let a little of that conviction known on this post.

 

A church is an assembly of people, and Christ has determined to build his own such assembly. The first point to understand is that it will be owned by Christ (“My church”). Secondly, if it is owned by him, then it will be built according to his own standards. Now what standard will that be?

 

Eph 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present herself to him as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

 

This is a high standard indeed. I bet we’ve all read this before. But how many of us have stopped to ask ourselves if the church today meets this standard. Most of us in our heart of hearts know that it doesn’t match up to it. But Ps 119:89 says “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; It stands firm in the heaven”. God’s will is already written down. It’s not what we want that will come to pass, but what he wants. So it is rather up to us to make sure that we are in that plan, because God is not about to change his stance to suit us.

 

The church today is not what Christ wants. Period. Why? Let us start from the most fundamental point – the gospel. If you’ve read my previous post on “What Is the Gospel Of The Kingdom?”, you’ll find that what we even preach today as the gospel is just a cloud of jumbled confusion. We do not know why we ourselves are called to become Christians, a knowledge which should shape every action that we take as a church.

 

Secondly, we have lost the emphasis on the importance of the Holy Spirit in our Christian walk and the necessity for individually asking for its infilling in the lives of every Christian. Most of our orthodox churches believe the Holy Spirit is received at conversion therefore there is no need for it thereafter. Lk 11:13 says “If you the, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

How many times have we seen the apostles converting people and subsequently laying their hands on them to be filled with the Spirit. (The Samaritans’ Example – Ac 8:1-25; Paul’s personal example -Ac 9:15-19; The Ephesians’ Example – Ac 19:1-7).

 

Even our so called “charismatic” and pentecostal churches have lost their “charisma”/ “pentecostalism” and have only turned to money making and self-aggrandizement in the name of “motivational speaking”. The power-filled life of the believer has now been delegated to only the “men of God”, and they use them as if they were their own property. But every Christian is supposed to be an exhibit of the power of the Kingdom. And these signs shall accompany those who believe; In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mk 16:17-18). Wasn’t Ananias just a disciple to have healed Paul and prayed for him to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

 

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) “But the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (Ac 4:20). “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit” (Ro 15:18-19a). Hmm. Where did all that go? We don’t have to look far to know the cause of this spiritual bankruptcy in the church today. Rev 3:14-22 will tell you why. But let me just point out a little detail of it – “You say I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing (v 17). Ah there it is. Today’s church is being run on all sorts of emotions, confusion, traditions of men and worse things instead of looking to the ultimate source of direction – the Spirit of God which leads us into all truth. No wonder God says in Jer 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water”. Much of the church today is “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Ti 3:5).

 

Thirdly the church today is a very defeated one, unlike what Christ himself is building where “the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. Trust Christ, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand‘” (Mt 12:25). I think most of us don’t realize how this applies to the church today. But I believe the model of the church in the book of Acts and the Epistles is the model that a Holy Spirit directed church will follow to be part of the “radiant church”. Why do you think that Paul was so vehement about divisions in the church?

I appeal to you brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another “I follow Christ”. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul” (1 Co 1:10-13)

 

Was it just for fanaticism sake? Jn 17 shows the prayer of Christ before he was arrested. His will was that the unity of the church will be a visible sign of him having been sent by the Father. Paul says “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph 3:10). The church as a visibily united organic body is a display of the glory of God and his purpose for the redemption of men. It is a sign of the preparedness of those who have been given “an inheritance among those who are sanctified” (Ac 20:32) – those who are going to be co-heirs to the throne of Christ when his kingdom is established. It is interesting to note what Paul says here: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name (Eph 3:14-15). Today’s Christian generally accept that in heaven there is no distinction in terms of denominational names/inclinations that a Christian belonged to. In the light of the above verse, are we doing the will of the Father in giving ourselves names and dividing ourselves on this earth? In almost all the introductory passages to every epistle, Paul refers to them as “the church of God in ‘blah blah blah town or city’”. Ask yourself why.

 

Fourth and most importantly, the church today is totally bereft of love. No, I don’t mean sensual or filial love. I mean “the love of God” – Agape. This is the love that Christ talks about when he commanded it on his disciples. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34-35; Jn 15:12; I Jn 3:16). I don’t mean going to orphanages to give donations and calling the media to cover it. I mean being burdened by the needs of the individual members of the church most importantly and then extending that love to the neighbourhood or community. Today the church is only a meeting place to “worship” God, not to meet the utmost need of the people. People leave church drained of all their monies, meanwhile nobody has bothered to find out their employment status. James puts it aptly “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (Jam 2:15-16). Our so called “men of God” are more bothered about riches and fame than about the financial, social, marital etc problems that individuals in the church face. There is no self-sacrifice for the benefit of a brother, unlike the extreme outpouring of love exhibited in Ac 2:44-45. Some of our modern day Christian leaders cannot even love their own wives, and others pride in openly displaying their “God given” wealth on TV. Meanwhile they live or come from communities where poverty levels are unbearable.

 

The standard of love that Christ commands is very high, and again can only be achieved by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Ro 5:5). This “the love of God” is a love that is defined fully in v 6-8 “You see, at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. We can see that the church today is only marking time because it is definitely not meeting this standard.

 

 

But the church as it is today is not going to bring about this revolution that Christ yearns for. They are too busy consolidating their monolithic, money-making, political-aligning, praise-singing, fame-seeking, denominated, disobedient model – a model which values the mega church buildings they build and not the real temples of God – the individual members (I Co 6:19) and the congregation of members together (I Co 3:16); a model which values quantity and not quality (Mt 7:13-14; Lk 13:22-24; Ac 15:14; Ro 1:5). No, rather it will be a church based on the model of the apostles of old – small, household and neighbourhood based churches which refuse to be denominated and which sees itself as just another part of the bigger family of the Father. It shares an “open source” ministry with all other related churches around it, allowing the Holy Spirit to use anybody in one church to minister to both physical and spiritual needs of another. Such a church will recognize the Holy Spirit as it’s power source which must fill every individual in their congregation and the bible as the ultimate standard of life and scriptural direction and not the traditions of men. Such a people will understand the glory to which they are called, and the sacrifices in obedience that this glory requires.

 

Paul told Timothy in 1 Ti 4:1-7 that some will abandon the faith in the last days. Note from v 7 that he wasn’t only talking about the future but he was addressing what had already began happening in his day and warning them not to be a part of it. The seven messages to the churches in Rev 2&3 had started pointing out the mistakes of the church even before the death of some of the apostles. There is no doubt that the message to Laodicea relates completely to the church today. The fall of the church happened a long time ago, right from the day the Roman Catholic Church (or is it “Cult”) decided to hold itself as the only true church that must rule every other one. Unfortunately, the Protestant movement did not take the cleavage much farther than it should have – returning completely to the model of the New Testament church – and still exhibits appendages of the Roman Catholic hegemony.

 

However, there is hope. In whatever situation that God finds his people in, he still preserves a remnant.

 

Mal 3:14-18 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenged God escape.’ Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name. ‘They will be mine’, says the Lord Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassions a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

 

 

The revolution of the church that Christ is building is upon us. Are you ready to stand up and be counted, or will you go with those on “the broad way”?

 

Jam 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins”

 

 

Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).

 

 

What Glory Means to A True Christian

 

Ro 3:22-23: “(22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

 

I’ve asked myself what Paul mean by this statement recently. Obviously he refers to the fact that all men are naturally sinners who could not deal with their own sin but needed the sacrifice of Christ to do that. However my contention is with “fall short of the glory of God”. Is that to mean that men had the glory of God but was taken away from us through sin? And if that is the case does the sacrifice of Christ bring us back to a position of being raised back to the glory of God?

 

I believe that this question can only be well answered if there is a solid understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom, a brief of which is in my previous post. The gospel clearly outlines the plan of God in bringing Jesus Christ unto earth to die for us. (Ge 1:26-28; 2:9;17;3:22-24; Mt. 25:34; Eph 1:4; 2:10; 2 Ti 1:9; Rev.2:7;26-27; 3:21)

 

2 Ti 1:9-10 “(9) who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (10) but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”.

 

Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world”.

 

We can see that Paul states to Timothy that God’s mind towards men from creation was that man might share in his glory. This is in fact the gospel that Jesus himself (Mt 4:17; Mt 19:27-29; Lk 22:28-30) and the early apostles preached (Peter’s example message – Ac 2:14-36, Paul’s example message – Ac 13:13-52; Ro 8:17). It is interesting to note how Paul calls this gospel the “gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ” in 1 Co 4:4.

 

Man was created in the image of God and God began to show him ways in which man will share in his glory by giving him authority over the earth. Man however failed the test that would have caused God to fully reveal his plan for him (man) when man listened to the devil.

 

However, to true Christians who are the heirs of the promise to Abraham, we can expect that God is going to restore to us His glory when Christ is come. This is the ultimate destiny of our Christian walk, the real purpose for our calling to serve.

 

Ro 8:17-18 “Now if we are children, the we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

 

2 Co 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

 

The glory of Christ is ultimately revealed in Christ coming to take up his throne on earth as the Son of God, the Son of David (2 Sa 7:11-16, Lk 1:32-33, Is 55:3-5) and the Seed promised to Abraham (Gal 3:14,16; Ge 12:7). However, true Christians will also be fully glorified with him because we will share in his rulership of the world. This glorification is the last phase of the four phase steps that reveal will of God towards all men.

 

Ro 8:30 “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.

Take note of these from Ro 8: 30:

  1. “Those he predestined” refers to all men, since it it the will of God that all men will share in his glory.

  2. “those he called” are all who hear the message of the gospel of Kingdom.

  3. “those he justified” are those who accept the sacrifice of Christ as the only way that their sins can be washed, and who go on further in obedience to be baptised in water.

  4. “he also glorified” are those who under the indwelling influence of the Holy Spirit, live their lives in service to the Lord, again in obedience to his own commands us to how he should be served. This is the most crucial part of the life of Christianity, and is what will really determine our portion in the inheritance.

     

Here we see a gradual narrowing down to those who will finally receive the promise of inheritance of the Kingdom. Glorification is a reward for our works of service done while in the body. Paul says that it is the people he has won for the Lord which he will glory in before Christ on that day. This is the work he will present before Christ to be glorified.

 

2 Co 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”.

 

1 The 2:19-20 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes? Is it not you? (20) Indeed, you are our glory and joy”.

 

Da 12:3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the starts for ever.”

 

1 Co 3:12-15 “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”.

 

Rev 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

 

This tree of life is the same tree that was in the garden of Eden. God would have given it to man if he had passed the test, and would have elevated him to share in His glory as the King of all the earth and everything in it. Glory is what the gospel has been all about. No doubt the early apostles laid down everything just for that glory. They put no confidence in the flesh, and considered suffering for the course of the kingdom as the norm, not the exception.

 

Ro 2:7-8 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

 

Ph 3:7-11 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (8) What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (10) I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like him in his death, (11) and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”.

 

But where will this glory be exercised? Rev 20 speaks of a Millennial kingdom, and God promised “our fathers” Abraham and David (Ge 12,15,17, 2 Sa 7:11-16) a land and a kingdom that will last forever. This promise’s fulfilment begins in this Millennial reign and continues into the New Jerusalem of Rev 21.

John says in Rev 21:4 “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. …”

Jesus says in Lk 22:28-30 “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”.

 

In heaven after the first resurrection, the true Christian’s work will be judged for quality ie. 1 Co 3:11-15, and he will be assigned to an area of authority proportionate to his work done (refer to Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:17-27 on how God equitably rewards his servants for work done). Christ will then return to take up his throne in the Millennial kingdom and carry on that rule to the everlasting city, the New Jerusalem, the new heaven and the new earth.

 

Obviously this glory that a true Christian will receive cannot surpass anything that we may ever receive on earth. Sometimes this makes me believe that since we are going to rule the whole creation, galaxies and stars, there must be aliens out there (and this is my personal opinion, no biblical backing please). No wonder I get emotional and angered when I hear people not speaking the “whole will of God” Ac 26:28 but a “quarter gospel”. Because knowing this is my destiny makes it ever so easy to lay down my life in conformity to the will of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit in seeking such glory (Ro 2:7; 8:13-14). No wonder someone like Paul – unlike our modern day preachers – , with the exception of the Philippian congregation, will refuse to accept being paid or offered any gifts for the work he did in obedience to God. Not that he wasn’t entitled to it, but he knew that the greater and more excellent glory is ahead of him. (1 Co 9:1-18, Ac 20:33-35; 2 Th 3:6-9; Php 4:10-20). No wonder the disciples under the direction of the Holy Spirit sold their possession to help in the church as needs arose (Ac 2:44-45). No wonder Paul, even though imprisonment had been prophesied by Agabus, was not deterred in going to Jerusalem (Ac 21: 10-11). I could go on and on. But this is not fantasy, nostalgia or madness. This is seeking after the glory of the Kingdom according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to the will of God.

 

Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).