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 :-).

 

 

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There Is Now No Condemnation! Or Is There?

Last week, I was on a trotro (public transport bus) to Osu when we got into traffic. Someone came over distributing some books for free to everyone in the bus through the window. Being the curious person that I am, I eagerly asked for one and found out that it was a devotional called “The Word for Today” from a certain Grace So Amazing Foundation based in Nigeria. It was for the month of February to April 2008.

First of all, I’ll like to state clearly that I don’t believe in devotionals. The worst of them I’ve come across is “Rhapsody of Realities” by our “almighty” Pastor Christ. They are just a waste of time and another contributory factor to the scriptural emptiness of many Christians. If you want to be a part of them that shall share the inheritance of the kingdom with Christ, there is no shortcut way to knowing God and his will except through your own diligent study, guided by the Holy Spirit. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6).

I’ve heard people say to me when I bring this up that “It’s not everyone who can easily understand the word of God the way you do”. Well first of all, I did not start reading the bible yesterday before I came to appreciate what God’s word is. I determined that I was going to know God myself. Thankfully I also learnt from men who I see everyday yearning to know God themselves. But even more importantly, what do we think the Holy Spirit is for? “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jn 14:27) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Judea ….” (Ac 1:8). How do we think Jer 31:34 – “No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” – will be fulfilled amongst us? Someone said the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood and neglected person in our quest to do the work of God today. I couldn’t agree with him more.

But I still accepted the devotional anyway. Nowadays I’m looking for material that will increase my understanding of the word of God or that will further prepare me to denounce the doctrinal errors of today’s Christianity through a diligent comparison to the “whole will of God” (Ac 20:27). Flipping through it all I could find were stories and references to peoples books, much of it skewed towards today’s “success/prosperity” gospel. That didn’t surprise me much till I got to the very last one – April 30 – titled “Get off the guilt train!”. It had this sub-title: “Those in Christ are not judged guilty – Ro 8:1 NCV”. Now that was the killer.

Here’s are excepts of the devotional: “the strongest among us struggle with areas of weakness. But continually wallowing in guilt we you’re not only punishing yourself, you’re allowing others to punish you too because you think you deserve it. … Even Paul, who had the ‘desire to do good’ admits that sometimes he couldn’t ‘carry it out’ (Ro 7:18). The good news of the Gospel is whenever you are in Christ…[you’re] not judged guilty’ and when you repent and seek forgiveness, God’ is bound to honour His word”.

For the purposes of argument, let me reproduce Ro 8:1 here “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (my emphasis).

This verse of the bible has been a very contentious one. Even my NIV does not include the last section of it in the main text but as a note. According to that note, earlier manuscripts of the book of Romans does not have this appendage and so some bible translators refuse to add it. Granted, but let us look at the context of this passage and find out if it is consistent for “who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” to be part of Ro 8:1. In fact there are so many bible verses which support the argument that the second part of Ro 8:1 is not inconsistent with the rest of Ro 8. But I’ll try not to bring in too much from those verses but focus on what is in the chapter itself on this post.

First of all, the book of Romans was written to Christians in the city of Rome. Ro 8:1-17 talks about living according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. The first point to note here is that it is entirely possible to be a Christian and live according to the flesh or the “sinful nature”. If this wasn’t possible, Paul will not have written v 9 to Christians – “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Why? Because it is by the Spirit that we are given the power to do the work of God (Ac 1:8) and it is by the Spirit that we know the mind of God (1 Co 2:6-16). We cannot please God if we do not work in his power and according to his will. It’ll surprises us to find out on the last day that all we did was total rubbish without the Spirit of God leading us in the power of God to do the will of God. No wonder Paul says “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God” (v 14). Your work will be judged by whether it was done by the direction of the Spirit and in conformity to the will of God or not. In fact almost every verse of Ro 8:1-17 points out the criticality of the “living according to the Spirit” and to speak on each one will just be a repetition. It suffices to say that “who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” should definitely be part of v 1.

The question then is “What if it wasn’t there? What is the big deal?” It is a big deal, because looking at the way this devotional puts it (and the way I’ve seen and heard it being used before), its absence renders the verse a very strong tool in the hands of those who think that “once saved, forever saved”. Yes I agree that if you truly are in the body of Christ, then you are not condemned anymore. But the barometer to determine your inclusion in that body and therefore exclusion from condemnation must be clearly given in addition. Whenever a promise of God is stated without a mention of the conditions attached to it, the grounds are inadvertently (or otherwise) laid for error. It is one of the reasons I agree that the preaching a “quarter” gospel that we do today will only lead us into condemnation (refer to the post on “The Gospel of the Kingdom”).

Christians reading the bible today must note that most bible translators are theologians whose translation may have a slant towards what their theological beliefs already are, regardless of whether it fits into the “whole will of God” or not. But God will not accept any excuse for ignorance, which is what most Christians are today. We think that it only so called “men of God” who can have insight into the word of God to teach us. But wait! What did Isaiah have to say about that? “For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, ‘Read this, please,’ he will answer, ‘I can’t; it is sealed.’ Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, ‘Read this, please,’ he will answer, ‘I don’t know how to read’ (Is 29:11-12). Note that a sealed thing can only be opened by one with authority. Todays educated Christian thinks that it’s only our “men of God” who have been authorised to teach us. What then shall the illiterate masses on our side of the world say?

How long shall we be children still yearning for milk? We must grow up or stay ignorant! It is the only way we can distinguish between falsehood and the truth of God’s word.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, still being an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:11-14).

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 :-).

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM?

In recent times, we (my family and some neighbours at home) have been looking again at what we mean by preaching the “gospel”. What is the gospel? It literally means “good news”, but good news about what? Is it all about redemption from sin and a place in heaven? Or is it the “prosperity gospel” of today? As for the latter I’ll reserve my shots at it for another post.

In one of our meetings, someone shared this with us “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. … For if someone comes to your and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily” (2 Co 11:2,4).

Further bible references led us to Gal 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let be eternally condemned!”

Granted that the context of Paul’s statements were about practices of the Law which the Galatians, under the direction of some devil inspired Jewish Christian, were being deceived into practicing as part of the requirements for eternal salvation. However, we would all agree that Paul’s words are very strong here. So we started applying the question to ourselves, asking “what is the gospel we preach?” To put that in a better perspective, “what is the gospel that the Jesus himself and his apostles preached?” That way we can compare it to what we preach and know if we are destined to be “eternally condemned” or not. Suffice it to say that most of us have known the gospel to be that God sent Jesus to die for men’s sins. But is that really all that Jesus and the disciples whose example we are encouraged to follow preached as “the gospel”? “Follow my example, as I follow the example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Co 11:1)

 

By the yearning for truth and the Spirit’s direction (who is a Spirit of truth) we have a better understanding of what the gospel of the kingdom is. Ac 13:32-33a puts it in a good light “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” Hmm. What does he man by “What God promised our fathers”? Let’s do a little breakdown. When Jews refer to their fathers immediately Abraham comes to mind. The they speak of Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David. Let’s make a few observations from promises made to some of these men.

  1. God promised Abraham that his seed will inherit the land on which God had sent him FOREVER. Has that happened? Israelites have even been vamoosed from their land for time and again, being exiled in Babylon, Persia etc. Until 1948, the nation of Israel had ceased to exist. We can’t reasonably say this promise has been fulfilled. Ge 12,15,17

  2. Moses prophesied about a prophet whom we must listen to. (Du 18:15)

  3. God promised David that his descendant will sit on his throne and that his descendant’s kingdom will last forever. Again the kingdom of Israel has never lasted forever. 2 Sa 7:11-16.

  4. Does “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most Hight. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk 1;32-33) not refer then to this kingdom promised to David and to the blessing of the whole world (Jew and Gentile) by the “seed” of Abraham?

  5. There are apparently 50 or so references to the phrase “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew alone, not counting “kingdom of God” and other such phrases elsewhere. What did John the Baptist and Jesus mean when they said “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 3:2; 4:17; Mt 25:34)? When Jesus said “kingdom of heaven” did the Jews only think he was referring to something in heaven or to “the promises made to our fathers”? To a Jew, what was the Messiah, the Christ supposed to come and do? Has Jesus changed it or conform to it?

  6. How does this relate to the Thousand Year (Millenium) reign of Christ in Rev 20. Does this not reflect a physical kingdom? How is this related to what Jesus promised his disciples in Lk 22:28-30, Mt 19:27-28 and what Paul states all over the epistles, an example being Ro 8:17?

  7. What about the new Jerusalem in Rev 21. Does it not signify a transition from an earthly kingdom after the Millennial reign to a fusion of the earthly and heavenly into a city of righteousness, fulfilling the “forever” part of the promise of God to the fathers of old?

  8. So then comparing what Peter preaches in Ac 2:14-36, Paul in Ac 13:13-52 and what we preach as the gospel today, is our gospel complete and speak the whole will of God – “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” ( Ac 20:27)? Did Jesus Christ just come to save us from sin or he came to restore to man the Kingdom promise and to being the co-heirs to the throne of that kingdom? If its just about redemption from sin, what does Paul mean when he says “It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain” (Ac 28:20b)?

  9. So then come the harder questions follow:

    1. Isn’t redemption from sin only the beginning of the race, a race which can only be completed by proving oneself worthy of the reward of inheritance?(1 Co 9:26-27; 2 Ti 4:7-8;1 Th 2:12; 2 Th 1:5,11; Ro 8:17)

    2. If we are just to be going to heaven, what exactly are we to be doing there? (This caused a very staunch Christian friend of mine to stun me with the saying that heaven will be boring. Obviously he hasn’t heard the gospel of the kingdom and the glory attached to it, a glory of which I’ll be addressing in another post)

    3. Is what we preach really the gospel? Doesn’t preaching the beginning step as the will of God toward men and leaving the even more important part of service in obedience to be rewarded with a share in the throne of Christ, constitute deception and contrary to the will of God?

    4. Haven’t we brought condemnation upon ourselves by what we preach as the gospel today: a quarter baked one (Gal 1:9, Jam 3:1)? If we have been half preaching the will of God, is that to the glory of God or or the devil? Is what we preach from God?

I’m attaching a more detailed document: The Gospel of the Kingdom to this post which will help shed some light on this topic. Read this with a heart and mind that seeks to know and obey the truth. Then confront what you preach, whether it is in line with the “will of God”. Jesus says “Not everyone that says to me , ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Mt 7:21). Does what you preach or have been preached to conform to the will of God for men in sending His son? Don’t be surprised if it isn’t, because much of the church today is clearly not owned by Jesus Christ anymore (Rev 3:14-22). If our foundation – the gospel we preach – is not sound, what else is sound about us? Don’t be scared, encourage yourself with this – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb 11:6)

I’ll end again with Paul: “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Ac 16:25-27)

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