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Christ in You

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) … the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The deception of modern ‘christianity’ (small c) is that religious rituals or church membership equals saved. Such beliefs, promoted by the pharisees and Roman Catholicism, are the very beliefs the early church and the reformers fought against. Yet now they have again become the human stamp of what a christian is. As such self-evaluation is comparing one’s self with others and by this determine they are ‘saved’.

Salvation however, comes through ‘faith’ in Christ alone. If, through repentance and faith in Christ salvation comes, then salvation is not an affidavit but a radically transforming encounter. It is proceeded by the entrance of Christ Himself into the life of the faithful. This is what the reformers died for.

Colossians 2:9–10 (ESV) For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Those who are saved are redeemed not because of their affiliations, but because of the indwelling Jesus christ.

If christ is in you as the hope of glory, then the fullness of the Godhead has the lead to effect all that you say and do.

This transforming work of Christ reproduces His counter-cultural ministry. Jesus’ revolutionary ministry can be described as apostle or ambassador, prophet, evangelist and shepherd teacher.

Ambassador – As Apostle Jesus’ life was controlled fully by the will of His father. Ambassadorial service exists for the good of the represented – in this case the Kingdom of God.

Prophet – He clearly distinguished between and revealed good and evil. Capable of recognising the institutions that were ostensibly good but actually evil. He saw the heart of man and was not filled by political correctness. He recognised the advancing Kingdom of hHeaven.

Evangelist – He spoke as one seeking to rescue people from the evil. The only way to be saved was through faith alone, in Himself/Christ alone.

Shepherd teacher – As the good shepherd, he never just ‘loved on people’ rather He called them to follow Christ. His teaching produced a counter-cultural revolutionary people who rejected the philosophies of the world in which they lived. The religious, the cultish and the atheistic. His teaching was to righteousness not to earthly comfort.

Christ is in you is the greatest underserved, unmerited privilege. Such glory surely will burst out of any vessel it resides in, producing abundant witness and ministry.

John Wesley once called this effect the “effectual power of a greater affection”.

As ambassadors of Christ, captivated by His love and mercy, His will alone demands our hearts and our action are conformed to His image and will.

As Prophets, we are not fooled by the deceptive reasoning of antichrist or the slanderous propaganda of the god of this age and are able to discern The advancing Kingdom.

As evangelists we will only be content with the Word of Christ as gospel.

As shepherd teachers every radical disciple of Christ seeks to influence others to become   counter-cultural revolutionary.

The riches of the glory of the mystery of the gospel is this – Christ in you the hope of glory.

A Discussion On Worship

Worship – The adoration of Deity.

Worship was, in its earliest form, the act of prostrating ones self at the feet of the object of worship. Over time its usage was transferred from an outward gesture to the inward attitude.

Thus:

Romans 12:1 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The cultic religion of Israel focused on the place to which one went for the act of worship and the prescribed method of worship.  By location and by ceremony the worshipper is comforted that the duty of deity worship had been realised. [1]

Indeed it was a means of controlling the worshipper. Fear of not ‘appeasing’ the deity through worship gave the priests or, in Jesus day, the Pharisees power over the people.

John 12:42 (ESV) Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

Freedom in Worship

Jesus radically redefines worship as He speaks with the Samaritan woman. She raises the issue of location in worship:

John 4:20 (ESV) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

His response abolishes the notion of worship as a ceremony, at a sacred or holy site, and presents spirit worship:

John 4:21 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

John 4:23–24 (ESV) But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The S/spirit worship of the early church was radically different to cultic worship – both Jew and Gentile worship. No longer was worship dependent on a location, or cultic ceremony, or on the leading and administration of worship by an elite group. Worship was decentralised so that the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, was worshipped freely. So to the worshipper was free to worship his God with out human mediation or control and without fear.

The early Christians had no fear of being excommunicated from the synagogues for they were able to worship in spirit and in truth anywhere, anytime, however the Spirit led. The form was less important than the attitude or heart.

True Christian worship was freedom in Christ to worship God in spirit and in truth without fear of rejection.

Worship in Modern Church Gatherings

Modern church gatherings have not evolved freely and unaffectedly from that early Christian worship. Rather its form has been handed down by the same systems that Christ’s death delivered the worshipper from.

What persecution was unable to do the Constantine/Roman Catholic religion did by manipulation re-establishing the control and fear of cultic worship. The true worshippers freedom was deceptively replaced by controlling cultic religion.

Control and fear is the order of religion. Freedom in Christ is the true worshippers portion. The religio-political system that was the roman church, ensured the establishment of control and fear; the building, rather than ‘where two or three are gathered (Mat 18:20)’, became the place of worship; the priests were the mediators between God and the worshipper not Jesus Christ (1Tim 2:5) and the mass became the form of worship and the rite of acceptance by the deity over faith in christ.

Displease the ‘church’ and the worshipper is no longer able to worship. Excommunicated, mass is withheld, separation and damnation the punishment.

Each proceeding religious form has come from that system. The protestant reformation and other movements became God’s vehicle through which Scripture and theology were again freed and placed into the hands of the worshipper. But the mistake so often made is to then deify all and every act of these reformers.

Luther, Calvin and others used the ‘power of the church’ to control would-be worshippers who disagreed with them. And so today, denominational and non-denomination leaders or pastors or CEO’s – regardless of title – feel a sense of authority and power over the worshipper.

Not to simply criticise, couldn’t we carry on the spirit of reformation into every aspect of this freedom into which Christ seeks us to enter in the fulness of ‘worshipper in spirit and truth’?

If we are truly free in Christ, why do worshippers feel obligated to participate in the religious service of a legally constituted religious body?

If worship is the living act of obedience to God through the worshippers life, why do we ‘go to worship’ and why are we ‘led in worship’ and how is it that we enjoy a ‘worship service’?

Summation – Is Worship Led Or Done?

of course the question is deeper than that. Whereas we may conclude that in the cultic worship of Israel they had directors or choirmasters, is Christian worship meant to be the same?

Church-gatherings as we know it, have evolved, not from the early church and its organic life, but from the religion of Constantine and the protestant reformation etc.

Whereas music plays a significant part when the church gathers (something worthy of further consideration) why has it become “Worship” to be led or conducted by the “worship leader”?

Music is certainly a divine gift as means to aid in the communication of Scripture and theology and is an effective aid in memorizing it. It also plays a significant role in the worshippers ability to address the ‘mood’ of the day and bring a more focused response to it. Has it become, is it really meant to be, a cultic ritual through which worship is defined?

To communicate to one another with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:18-20) is to build and encourage each other in the faith (Jude 20f). Rather than the domain of the professional clergy/musicians it could perhaps be a family and friends celebration rather than a structured religious form? And perhaps its significance as a prelude to prayer is to be embraced over its power as an entertainment form or emotional manipulation.

WORSHIP – THE ADORATION OF DEITY

[1] Greeven, H. (1964–). προσκυνέω, προσκυνητής. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 6, p. 758-766). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

The Life Quotient

There is not a single decision you will make today that does not have a life/death quotient.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV) I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

A Powerful Mantra: Choose Life and Live

I was talking to Hannah and Michael about choosing the right food pointing out that the the more human intervention there is in the food chain the less nutritious our food is. This led to a discussion about life and death as the result of Adam’s sin.

Adam and Eve had life and death set before them in the simple directive to refrain from eating a certain fruit. There was no meanness in God’s intent, no keeping Adam and Eve from good things. To the contrary, they were offered EVERYTHING in the garden, and it was ALL GOOD. One thing only was forbidden; it was a test of trust, faith and honour. A simple choice that had opposite outcomes dependant on that choice. Take the fruit, you have chosen death; refusing the fruit is a choice for life. It wasn’t really about fruit though, it was a choice of trust and believe; between God’s word and Satan’s word. The serpent spoke an opposing word… who was speaking truth? Adam and Eve judged God to be the liar and satan to be the speaker of truth. So life became to them death.

2 Peter 1:3 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

Like Adam and Eve, everyday we are given the choice between life and death.

Here’s what I noted in my discussion with Hannah and Michael… everything that man touches, no matter how useful and/or good it is, has an element of death attached. Genetically modified food, even modern farming methods may produce greater yield but its nutritional value is affected. Medicines may control one disease but at the cost to particular bodily organs. A car is excellent transport, but it pollutes the atmosphere and so on.

I cannot think of a human invention or a human intervention that does not have a ‘death’ component built in. In other words, everything humans touch adds death.

I cannot think of a single thing that, if taken in its natural form as God created it, produces anything but life… even in death. If we throw an apple core to the ground it will breakdown and feed the soil. Throw a plastic bottle to the ground and it will pollute the soil.

With a little insight we will see in every decision a life or death quotient.

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

In every decision:

Choose The Life Quotient

Are You a Victim of Circumstance?

Luke 16:8 (ESV) The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.

A retired US military intelligence officer and regular at our cafe, told Dale about the service record of a navy seal commander. At one time in his service he was summarily ‘sacked’ by his commanding officer. In the military such an event is the end of a career. However, rather than being the end, this man went on to become an admiral. Apparently it was because he was able to find acceptance by other commanders and, through tenacity, did the unthinkable.

Rather than becoming a victim of circumstance, rather than have his future fall victim to another’s decision, he took control and changed the future his former ‘boss’ intended.

This reminded me of the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16:1-8.

The manager, who was basically the managing director of his bosses company,  was accused by others of mismanaging the business. Whether the accusations were true or not, when the owner heard them the manager’s employment was immediately terminated. This account parallels that of the admiral… when the manager was sacked, rather than accepting the prospects of a future controlled by another, he judiciously took control. He went to his former bosses business partners and reduced the exorbitant interest charges on their account. Thus he was able to find an alternate future suited to his skills and plans.

Rather than accept the end of his career, rather than becoming a victim of circumstance, he took control and changed the future his former ‘boss’ intended.

Jesus commended the manager saying that the people of this world exercise better judgement and commonsense that most Christians. 

In the Word Biblical Commentary, John Nolland expresses it like this:

Luke draws from the parable the lesson that, despite this state of awareness, Christians seem less effective at cutting their cloth to their situation than do the worldly wise.(Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21–18:34 (Vol. 35B, pp. 801–802). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)

No one has your future in mind more than Jesus Christ. He died to release you from the victimisation of circumstances (sin?). Through this parable Jesus is saying there is no glory in being a victim in life.  Through the judicious exercise of good judgement take control of your future rather than passively accept circumstances that produce failure, defeat and death.

Don’t be a victim of circumstances… be active in pursuing your future…

Church or Kingdom

Matthew 11:12 (NIV84) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Luke 16:16 (ESV) “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.

The Kingdom and The Church

Today the distinction between The Kingdom and The Church has been lost. Though lip service may be given, the reality is that evangelism is predominately church recruitment, church attendance the evidence of being born again, church activity the seal of maturity.

The gospel proclaimed by Jesus and His apostles was not good news of salvation, though salvation is definitely a result of the gospel. And naturally to those who are delivered it is very good news. It is not good news about blessings or about relevant, contemporary church services. The gospel of the NT is the gospel of the Kingdom.

Matthew 3:2 (ESV) “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17 (ESV) From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Acts 8:12 (ESV) But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 20:25 (ESV) And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.

To be ‘born again’ is to gain entry into The Kingdom.

John 3:3 (ESV) Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom, as the term suggests, implies the rule and reign of a King – Jesus Christ (1Cor 15:20-28 essential reading to understand the advancing Kingdom). Those in His Kingdom; the people of His Kingdom, are those whose allegiance is to the King of Kings.

In its simplest form, Church is the people of the Kingdom meeting together.

1 Corinthians 11:18 (ESV) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church

God’s people gathered as the church, is greater than a gathering of individuals; Church is more than the sum of all its parts. Together, it becomes a dynamic body, the unique mix of gifts and talents, coordinated as one in Christ (1Cor 12:12-31).

Synagogue or temple

The temple was THE place of sacrifice and worship. It was the physical location that symbolised God’s abiding presence: Under the old covenant the temple is where God dwelt. The NT reveals the typology of the temple. It was a shadow of the reality that was to come (Col 2:17). The temple of the new covenant is the people of God, citizens of His Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (NIV84) Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

It is interesting that by Jesus day the synagogue had greater emphasis than the temple. People would go to the temple but it was the synagogue that held power over the people.

When Jesus cleared the temple He referred to its significance as ‘God’s temple: “It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matt 21:13) but concerning synagogues, the gospels says Jesus taught in “their synagogues” (Mat 4:23; Luke 4:15). Even in His own home town we are told “he taught them in their synagogue”. Though synagogues had been established as ‘teaching houses’, and once served a valid purpose, they had become places of control and fear, usurping the significance of the temple and became ‘the‘ religious power base.

John 9:22 (ESV) (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

John 12:42 (ESV) Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

When did the synagogues become the place of forgiveness and deliverance? How did the rulers of the synagogues become the power holders of people’s access to God and to deliverance?

The rulers of the synagogues became judges and the synagogues places of accusation (Lk 12:11); they judge people’s work based on membership of the synagogue (Lk 13:13-14). The synagogue was a place of self-advancement and justification (Lk 11:43) Jesus warned that synagogues would be places of oppression (Mk 13:9).

And finally, in Revelation they are referred to as ‘a/the synagogue of satan’ (Rev 2:9; 3:9).

And so by Jesus time a place established by men as a place of meeting for teaching etc became a religious organisation, ruled by political men, power-seekers establishing themselves as statesmen, judging God’s people. Those who participated in their synagogue were good, those who questioned the doctrine of the synagogue or challenged its authority or simply by accident crossed its rulers were judged and condemned.

Jesus was scathing in His assessment of what the synagogue and its rulers had become:

Matthew 23:16–24 (ESV) “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

The temple was a place of God’s presence, of sacrifice and forgiveness, or righteousness and mercy, it was replaced by the synagogues, places of man’s rule, of judgement and condemnation, self-righteousness and aggrandisement. A place that offered acceptance, not to seekers of the Kingdom and righteousness, but for this who are members, and judgement and persecution for those who seek the Kingdom apart from seeking their approval.

Synagogue and Legal Religious Entity

What is called church today is not a gathering of people of the Kingdom but a legal religious entity. It consists of rules, by-laws, statements of faith, buildings, programs and religious activity that the faithful adherents attend. These entities are legitimised by government, have legal status, tax benefits and notable structure.

Church in the NT was simply a gathering of the people of the Kingdom. The people gathered together in fellowship. It had no legal status, no rules, no by-laws or statements of faith, it was deliberate gathering of and commitment to the teaching of the apostles and pursuit of the knowledge of God in Christ. They met in homes and in the temple porches, no buildings, programs or religious activity. They met together to share the ‘Lord’s supper’ or love feast, to prayer, fellowship and praise (Acts 2:42).

Throughout the ‘so-called’ history of the church we see from Constantine onwards, a religious power base, no different to what the synagogues had become. Throughout this history there have been people of the Kingdom breaking free of theses ‘synagogues of satan’ seeking to return to the place of the temples freedom. To become the people of God in whom the Spirit dwells.

Revelation is not politically correct nor trying not to offend when it describes these institutions as synagogues of satan. John the baptist was not being polite when he called the power holders of this pseudo-jewish religion “a brood of vipers” (Mat3:7) Jesus was not being a statesman when he called the leaders of these houses of satan, blind leading the blind.

Matthew 23 is a clear diatribe of Jesus opinion of these men and their synagogues:

Matthew 23:4 (ESV) They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Matthew 23:13 (ESV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

In Revelation 3:9 Jesus says that “those… who say they are Jews (citizens of The Kingdom) are not”.  In Matthew 7:21 Jesus warns that just saying you are a Christian doesn’t make it so. He says that many will say they have done things in His name to which He will reply, “depart from me, I never knew you”.

Legal religious entities, like the synagogues of Jesus day, have become pseudo-christian religions, anti-christ in nature as they exist to usurp the Kingdom. That’s not to say all ‘churches’ are, but throughout history, if we have eyes to see (ears to hear the Spirit), we will note that gatherings of God’s people eventually become politicised – it was power holders in the Christian community that convinced Constantine to embrace Christianity and conquer the world. Through his efforts the name of Christianity went from persecuted minority to imperial religion. It became everything Christ opposed – thus ‘anti-christ.

And so, throughout ‘church history’ the people of the Kingdom, the church of Jesus Christ, have been persecuted by the synagogues of satan, pseudo-christian religion in the guise of legitimacy given by legal authority from the state. Constantine established it and so today even well intentioned Christians seek “caesar’s” legitimacy on their endeavours.

The conflict of the Kingdom is not a conflict against the world but against anti-christ. This fight has existed from the apostles days.

1 John 2:18–19 (ESV) Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Pseudo-christian Religion V The People of the Kingdom

Pseudo-christian religion has buildings called church, it is ruled by power-holders (pharisees), appointed by men, validated by theological degrees and letters of recommendation.

 

People of the Kingdom are the church when they meet for prayer, teaching, sharing the love feast in remembrance of Christ. They gather in homes, cafes, parks etc. They are led by elders, given as gifts to the church gatherings to teach etc.

PSEUDO-CHRISTIAN RELIGION                      PEOPLE OF THE KINGDOM (SUBJECTS of)

  • Seeks affirmation from society                 Seeks affirmation from Christ alone
  • Ruled by power-holders                             Ruled by Christ
  • Rulers seek control and recognition        Leaders seek Christ
  • Speak to itching ears                                  Speak Kingdom and warning
  • Promotes its own truth                              Promotes Jesus alone as The Truth
  • Judges those outside never itself             Never judges outsiders only self

Concluding Remarks

Many people, who long for Jesus appearing, sense these religious organisations called church are just not ‘it’.  Its very function and existence seems to contradict what we sense The Church of Jesus Christ should be. The rulers of this synagogues proclaim a message that Paul says is really no gospel at all. (Gal 1:7 NIV84)

This has certainly been my experience. The more I seek Jesus Christ and His Kingdom the more I see within me the trappings of the pseudo-christian religion of western society and the more I rebel against it. Like a free radical, I find myself in opposition to the patterns of legal religious entities. I don’t seek union with them. I seek Christ and His Kingdom. I seek to be living in His Kingdom conformed to the pattern of His people gathered together, whatever its form, wherever it gathers, believing that only there will Jesus Christ be manifest in our midst…

Matthew 18:20 (ESV) For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The tragedy is that we have been caught in the lie that these legal entities called church are in fact the only legitimate forms of church and we fear, just as the jews of the synagogues feared, that somehow these synagogues, these rulers have power over our souls. That to be seperate from them is to be seperate from God.

We were raised to believe that if a group is not legitimised by the government it is not really church. If we meet together in various locations in a non-systematic way and our meetings are not sanctioned by state registration, then it is an illegitimate group and not a church. (The SSM controversy is evidence of that. The institutional church is horrified as though marriage is a state sanctioned contract rather than a covenant established by God and before God.)

The New Covenant church however is the people of the Kingdom of God under the authority of His Christ (Rev 12:10). They meet together from house to house to break bread, and for prayer and for instruction etc. The elders are not ‘carded’ ministers recognised by an ordaining body but gifts of Christ recognised for the gift of Christ that they are (Jn 10:4; 1Jn 2:20,27).

Perplexed but not driven to despair – refreshing is coming

2 Corinthians 4:8–9 (ESV) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

Heading into the shower this morning – a great place to meditate and pray – I was thinking of the many people in my sphere of influence who are experiencing spiritual struggles.

Personally, recent years have come with major crises and battles that have wearied me to the point of being perplexed and almost driven to despair. But at each point, when i most felt crushed, forsaken, struck down and willing to succumb to despair, the unfathomable grace of Jesus Christ has broken through.

I received a report recently and entwined in it was an expression of weariness. A look at society demonstrates that “this present darkness” is moving freely and unabated in an effort to obliterate the light of the witness of Christ in His people. It is no wonder those who are disciples of Jesus Christ are under huge pressure and affliction, while the pseudo-christian religion is adapting to the struggle through passive acquiescence.

Contrary to the ‘evidence’ of circumstances and the natural world order, I sensed that things were about to change. While in the natural the struggles have seemed overwhelming, and there is no sense of the raging of darkness slowing, I have sensed a word of change for the people of Jesus Christ.

Is this a Spirit Word for the people of Christ? You need to judge for yourself, in Christ.

All I can say on this matter is that the false prophets recorded in Scripture, were motivated by position, possession and pleasure. They spoke from a position of influence with political powers, they sought to speak words that compare favourably with those political views and they were rewarded financially and drew wide based support and following. Prophets of God tended to speak out of suffering, oppression and weakness. They were always social pariahs. This was also true of the Apostles of the NT.

I’d rather listen to a voice in the wilderness than a ‘successful’ media-preacher. I don’t believe there is a ‘calling’ to preach the blessing… only a compelling mandate to preach Christ crucified.

Usually, when I hear the Spirit speak, it is an event that cuts across my thoughts, my feeling etc,  totally disconnected with my current focus. This is how it came, so Im thinking and believing that it is a Word of encouragement. Though this present darkness will continue to advance – in accord with God’s ultimate plan and purpose – a change in the personal experience of those who are the people of God is coming. Those who have been wearied under the weight of spiritual oppression and darkness, TAKE HEART, tears are in the night but joy comes in the morning. The two witnesses of Revelation (ch 11), a type of the witness of the church in Word and deed, is apparently destroyed by the spirit of antichrist, but after three days they receive the breath of God (Spirit). This is typical of the refreshing empowerment of Jesus Christ.

A great falling away is happening:

Matthew 24:9–14 (ESV) “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

But a great empowering is coming to those who have endured…

People of the Kingdom Perhaps?

Matthew 24:5 (ESV) For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

2 Corinthians 11:12–15 (ESV) And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Growing up as a pastor’s kid  I could not reconcile the business of religion with the Jesus I believed in. So at an early age I rebelled. While serving in the army I had a divine encounter with Jesus that changed my life. So I went back to the religious structure I knew as ‘church’. After 15 as a pastor/church planter, I finally gave up trying to reconcile the politics of self-serving organised religion with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (The book I wrote “Will the Real Church Stand Up” is a seminal expression of the beginning of a journey to discovery)

Today’s musing is on the nature of the people of the Kingdom (Mat 4:23; Lk 16:16).

The Gospel of Jesus is the good news of His Kingdom (cf Act 28:31). Jesus is King; His Kingdom has come (Mat 11:12 12:28); it advances forcefully and people who are His (Jn 6:44) are forcing their way into it (lk 16:16).

Scripture, to those who are His own, becomes ‘the living Word’ and cannot be used for self-advancement or personal advantage because they believe that scripture is the revelation of Christ and His Kingdom (Jn 5:39). Scripture reveals Jesus and His Kingdom to and for the people of the Kingdom. Obedience to the King is paramount.  Scripture is not a book of rules or ethics for human interaction to be mandated by pseudo-christian power holders, but God’s self-revelation in christ (cf Jer 31:31-34; Mat 26:28):

The people and behaviour and mindset of His Kingdom is diametrically opposed to every other worldview (Rom 12:2).  Jesus demonstrated time and time again His counter-cultural Kingdom. The call for Jesus to judge in a matter (see previous musing) on which he declared He had no opinion on, exemplifies this.  His response is unique, He refused the role of arbitrator, and refused to have an opinion on the ‘rightness’ of the dispute.

The Church of Jesus Christ is not contemporary nor relevant to society, it is non-conformist, in absolute opposition to the modern synagogs of pseudo-christianity with an irreconcilable worldview.

Pseudo-christian religion tells others what truth is, loves the world, accepts sin and calls righteousness judgmental – people of the Kingdom seek Jesus as truth, love one another, witness in the world without judgement, but judge sin in the body of Christ.

In Jesus’ time the synagogs had members who followed Jesus, but the synagogs themselves were systemically opposed to the Gospel of the Kingdom because the gospel disarmed their power over people. Pseudo-christianity is anti-christ.

End time deception, as prophesied throughout Scripture, will not come in the form of opposing world religions, it will look like and sound like ‘an angel of light’. It will say, “come, Christ is here.” it will have you believe that participation with them is participation in salvation. The Church of Jesus Christ is not an edifice or a legal entity or organised religion, it is the people of the Kingdom living in His love (not the same as the love of undiscerning acceptance). In the world but not of it. It seeks no affiliation with political powers or structures nor contemporary acceptance. It seeks only Christ and His approval.

So my musing: how do i pursue non-conformity to the patterns of pseudo-christianity and seek Christ Jesus? To know His Kingdom and how the people of His Kingdom think, see and live – as those who are in the world but not conformed to it?

A Matter of Opinion

Luke 12:13–14 (ESV) 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

Notice how Jesus’ response stands out? Many of todays ‘religious leaders’ would gladly insinuate themselves into this situation. Seeking personal gain or prominence by their ‘wise’ judgements. Not so Jesus, founder of a Kingdom that is counter-cultural. He shows His way – the way His people should think and live. How counterintuitive! 

An Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs, back in the 1990s, gave this profound answer to a reporter’s question; “I have no opinion on that!” How unique for a politician, how contrary to almost everyone? When was the last time you heard a politician say he/she had no opinion? For that matter when did you last hear anyone say they have no opinion on a matter?

It occurred to me recently how often I have opinions. In my mind I judge peoples lives; their choices, behaviour and words. While as a watchman (Ez 33) I am commissioned by Jesus Christ to warn, exhort or rebuke (Tit 2:12;  2Tim 4:2) to those who I am called to (Heb 13:17), I am not called to warn those outside of my sphere of influence and therefore should have no opinion or judgement concerning them.

From national or world issues, to the loss of a football game, opinions fly thick and fast. Contradictory options and judgements abound. Human nature is driven by opinions. Since the very first biblically recorded question – which incidentally came from Satan (Gen 3:1) – and eve’s embellished/opinionated response,  human’s have had opinions.

An ‘opinion’ is a view or judgement, which, by definition, makes the opinion-holder a judge. The natural outworking of judgement is the belief that we are somehow qualified to arbitrate or insinuate our judgements upon the person or into the situation without any thought as to whether it is our place to do so.

2 Samuel 15:4 (ESV) Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”

This is probably an outworking of original sin, the desire to be as God, knowing good and evil!

Genesis 3:5 (ESV) For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So, it seems good to me – as it seems to be a fundamental Kingdom position – that it is easier to refrain from judgement if we can refrain from options on how others should live or act. This doesn’t mean we should have no ethical or philosophical views etc, because people of the Kingdom will live according to Kingdom principles. Rather, those principle are not for us to enforce on others outside of the Kingdom. If the rule and reign of Jesus Christ is not established in another, then he/she is actually free to live in opposition to it… until such time as the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. (Re 11:15)

Kingdom minds are transformed for Kingdom living not for judgement of others.

 

When Scripture Becomes Word

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

While teaching the kiddies (grandchildren) about our calling in Christ Jesus, I built a foundation using Genesis 1 and the act of creation, along with John 1 The Word in creation. I highlighted that life comes from God and belongs to Him. So we do not ‘live for ourselves, to gratify our own desires[1]‘ rather our lives belong to God (1Cor 6:19,20). The Word, John 1 tells us, was made flesh and came into the world. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.

When I asked them, “who is the Word”? they replied “the Bible”. Well, I have always tried to maintain a distinction between Jesus as the Word and the Bible as Scripture, so I explained the difference. This led to the thought, when does Scripture become Word?

We know and believe that Scripture is inspired by God, yet we also know that simply ‘quoting’ scripture does not make it right. After all, if simply using or quoting scripture made our word God’s Word then satan, who quoted Scripture to manipulate Jesus’ actions (Mat 4:5,6), would also be true.

Such a thought is in itself contradictory because Scripture says satan is a liar and has been fro the beginning. So, if he uses Scripture it can hardly be ‘God’s Word’!

In Corinthians Paul says that the ‘word of the cross’ is folly to the perishing but ‘the power of God’ to those who are being saved. Scripture, like creation, speaks clearly about God so that every person is without excuse (Rom 1:20). But these same Scriptures, that are dead foolish words to those who seek their own desires, become ‘alive’ or ‘Word’ when the Spirit breaths life into them. He is at work bringing the power of Jesus’ life into Scripture saving, reviving and empowering those He is speaking to, making them alive in Christ.

So, when we seek justification from Scripture rather than from repentance through Christ and His shed blood; when we try to manipulate a person’s behaviour to suit our own desires, there is no ‘Word’ but words. However, When we are seeking Jesus Christ and His righteousness the Spirit bring Scripture to life… It becomes WORD of God.

The thought of our heart and our intent must be subjected to the scrutiny of The Word. Just as the devil is a liar and has been from the beginning, so too all men are of him and also liars (Jn 8:48; Jer 9:8). When subjected to The Living Word the heart is laid bare.

Is the purpose of our heart self gratification and glory or is it God’s glory? Will we ‘use’ Scripture to justify our death or will we seek The Word to lay ahold of life?

When Scripture becomes Word it produces life:

Hebrews 4:13 (ESV) And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

 

[1] Titus 3:3 (ESV) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

I Wasn’t Wrong Just Incorrect – When Scripture Becomes Word

I have been musing upon the thought: When strong Opinions Clash!

As I considered the topic I thought of Apostle Paul and Barnabas and their “sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:36-41). I thought along traditional lines, “well both could be argued for and therefore a positive ‘moral’ achieved. One being seen as ‘more right’ than the other.”

Armed with traditional thought and my preconceptions (those thoughts often entangled by contemporary and traditional opinions and personal  gifting and personality) I began to study the various passages to outline my thoughts in an ‘academic’ fashion.

To my surprise – which shouldn’t really be a surprise – in examining the appropriate passages I realised there was more than what tradition, contemporary though or my preconception revealed. In examining the passages I found there were large gaps filled in by speculation and large amounts of conjecture useably because the approach to or questions of the text are from presuppositions. But the overarching realisation revealed to me in this event was that God, rather than man, becomes the ‘moral of the story’. I mean, every writer and discussion I’ve heard focuses on what man did, who was right or wrong, who was hearing Christ more etc.

The point most clearly defined is this:

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

My point in this musing is not to speak of the title “When Strong Opinions Clash”, I will send that out later, rather it is given as an example to point out our need for Scripture to become Word if we are to live in His light.

Conclusion:

We are constantly being conformed to patterns of this world (Rom 12:1-3), not all of it is evil but includes our imbibing and accepting ‘Christian’ truisms (forms of godliness 2Tim 3:5) and traditional theology (Mk 7:8; Col 2:8).

Scripture is not for us to interpret, rather it is for us to seek prayerfully for Scripture to become “Word of God”, that is: God-breathed, so that it may interpret us. It may search our hearts and reveal the sin of our arrogant presuppositions and bring us in humility to the light and life of men, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. (John 1:1-12)