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The Hope of Righteousness (Our Body pt. 2)

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For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”1

For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.”2  

A thoughtful reading of the above verses will raise a few questions, but seeing new things often requires the courage to take off, at least for a moment, one’s lenses of previous belief and doctrine.  I pray God’s grace works in us to desire truth more than comfort, familiarity or acceptance.  Here is the question I’m going to focus on in this post:

1). Aren’t we already righteous in Christ?”  If so, then what is this “hope of righteousness” we are waiting for and what does it mean to be “saved in hope?”

To answer this, we first have to understand what righteousness is in God’s eyes, and how we attain it.  First of all, righteousness is not morality. Simply stated, the “righteousness of God” Jesus said we are to seek is alignment with and conformity to the desires and purposes of God.  Since God’s purposes are centered around His Kingdom, righteousness for a believer will in some way line up with the establishment and ways of the Kingdom of God.

Here’s a helpful, though imperfect illustration of righteousness: lets say you have children, and you instruct them to take out the trash before they go to bed, as the garbage man will be collecting it in the morning.  You tell them this is important for the household to run the way it should.  The next morning, you see the trashcan is still overflowing and it’s starting to smell.  Your children excitedly inform you they decided to draw pictures for their grandma instead of taking out the trash as you, the head of the household, wished.  While the children’s choice of activity was in a sense “good,” it wasn’t righteous, because it wasn’t what the head of the household desired and instructed, and it wasn’t what the household needed at that time.

With that in mind, the “hope of righteousness” which believers await is the expectation (hope) of God’s will being fulfilled and His life expressed all over the earth, through the body of Christ, just as it is in heaven.  Jesus’ prayer was for this very thing to take place, saying: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”3  As sons of God, this is to be our desire and what we strive to see come to pass.  So many Christians have been indoctrinated to wait for a tribulation and judgment, thinking that the kingdom is going to come sometime in the future, likely after they die.  Jesus said the kingdom was “at hand” in his day, and I believe God is now waiting for a generation of believers to connect with Christ, it’s head, and manifest the kingdom of God on earth just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.  Now, since Jesus’ body has many members all over the earth, the kingdom will be manifested globally.  This is what we see in Revelation 21 and 22, which speaks of nations, on earth, bringing honor to the kingdom of God which is on earth as well (Revelation 21:24).

So what about believers being made righteous in Christ?  Well, according to the plain teaching of scripture, the only way to obtain and maintain a state of righteousness is through faith.4  Some translations say “faith in Christ,” others say “the faith of Christ,” and the literal Greek may say just “the faith Christ” or faith “into” Christ.  Either way, scripture is clear that even as believers, we cannot access grace or please God without faith.5  So what is faith?  Put extremely simply, faith is a divine gift of spiritual sight.  Paul said believers are to “walk by faith, not by sight,”6 meaning that for a disciple of Christ, one’s entire life will be guided not around one’s own understanding and reasoning (even of spiritual things), but by the inward illumination and prompting of the spirit of Christ, the “life-giving spirit” that Jesus has become.7  Christianity teaches that faith is essentially a “belief” in something, but seems to have missed the fact that faith is entirely spiritual, a divine gift.8

Jesus Christ was the word of God made flesh.9  He is the perfect expression of the Father,10 and therefore as his body walks by the spiritual sight granted us by the spirit of Christ, we will be in alignment with God’s will and will be righteous.11 Rather than waiting for illumination and only walking by faith, the body of Christ has, for centuries, largely walked by human understanding, doctrines and traditions, but either can’t or won’t see and admit this.  Thus, many believers refuse to repent and the earth suffers as a result.  As the body of Christ is “transformed” by the working of the spirit of Christ, scripture says we, together, as one body with many parts and one temple with many stores, will become the righteousness of God” in Christ, and that this is attained “through the faith of Christ.”12  That is the hope of righteousness we are saved in.  It’s not instantaneous; it must be sought, flesh must remain crucified, and love must be the underlying force – looking past sin, proclaiming reconciliation, enduring hardship and suffering.  So be it, I hope you’ll join me.

  1. Galatians 5:5

  2. Romans 8:24-25

  3. Matthew 6:10

  4. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=KJV&quicksearch=righteous+faith&begin=47&end=73

  5. Romans 5:2, Hebrews 11:6

  6. 2 Corinthians 5:7

  7. 1 Corinthians 15:45

  8. Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8

  9. John 1:14

  10. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15

  11. Paul wrote about the walk of faith using a different illustration in Ephesians 4:13-16 (NKJV).  He says that apostles and prophets and such are only given until: “…we all (the entire church) come to the unity of the faith (the whole body finally connects to and is directed by the head) and of the knowledge of the Son of God (the faith of Christ), to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  When this happens someday, the hope of righteousness will have begun to be fulfilled.  Imagine a natural body in which certain parts acted independently of the head, while others submit to it.  It would be a mess, and that’s exactly what we see right now, only we’re so used to it that for many it seems normal.  

  12. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:22

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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What the Law Could Not Do

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“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4 NAS77)

I want to look at just one portion of this incredibly deep and important passage. I want to know what it was “the law could not do.” Like most Christians, my upbringing led me to assume that Paul meant that the law could not fix my issues, my bad behavior (which is mostly true). There are depths I haven’t seen yet, but what I have seen confirms that as always, it’s so much bigger and deeper than just behavior-modification.

Paul’s statement that the law was unable to do something is in the context of a discussion about the power and impact of a new law that arrived in Christ Jesus – the law of the spirit of life. Paul says that this new law sets us free from an old law, the law of sin and death.  Romans 8 is all about living under the new law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

In short, “what the law could not do” is give LIFE.  Here are some things Paul wrote elsewhere:

  • Galatians 3:21: “…For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.”
  • Romans 7:9-10: “And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me…”
  • Colossians 2:13-14: (God in Christ) canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us…”

Life” as used in scripture needs to be redefined. Generations have taught that the eternal life Jesus gives is the privilege of spending an eternity in heaven. But Jesus himself defined eternal life as knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ whom he sent.1  Maybe the essence of it is really that simple.  The law cannot bring intimate knowledge of or communion with God.  Isn’t that what it’s about?  If two people are in love, for them there’s nothing better than intimate communion with each-other.

At least one reason the law could not do this, Paul says, is that man’s flesh made the law “weak.” Since Adam, man’s flesh has been sinful, corrupt, blind, prideful, self-preserving. Therefore law always led to failure and guilt, shame, and condemnation.  Sin was actually empowered by law.2  Therefore God “condemned sin in the flesh” by the offering of Jesus, once for all. God did this in order to translate all of mankind into an entirely different realm, one in which Jesus Christ is the firstborn, not Adam.  ALL flesh, (flesh being defined as man’s natural part, especially his natural mind and will), whether good or bad, is dead in God’s sight.  

Life is a really big deal to God. When we understand and taste what Life is, we can more easily recognize what both life and death in God’s sight are.  Do you want that? 

Thanks for reading. May God’s grace be upon you.

  1. John 17:3

  2. 1 Corinthians 15:56
 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Bigger Than Heaven

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  (Hebrews 9:13-14)

“For the Law…can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?” (Hebrews 10:1-2). 

Wow, what huge verses those are.  Let’s first consider what these strange “dead works” are.  Two very important clues:  1.) It is the conscience that needs to be cleansed of them, and 2.) The cleansing agent is the blood of Christ.  I believe these “dead works” are works that are done based on the voice of the human conscience. 

Let me explain further.  Dead works aren’t evil, they’re simply dead.  Dead works could be ministering to the poor, going on missions trips, etc.  These things can be called “dead” because “life” is something that ONLY comes from God and is a spiritual reality, while the conscience doens’t connect with God and isn’t spiritual at all.  God sees anything that isn’t spiritual as “dead,” no matter how good and “alive” it seems to men.  God is pleased with obedience, which stems from relationship and communication, not “good works” which stem from man’s religious conscience. 

Now check this out: in both passages quoted at the top, the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus is being discussed.  The word “conscience” in the first passage is the exact same Greek word as “consciousness” in the second, and the same with the word “serve” in the first passage and “worshipers” in the second.  These passages are examining intertwining issues hindering intimacy with God but which are remedied by Jesus’ blood; namely consciousness of sin and dead works.  Combining these verses, I think one could say: Through the power of the blood of Jesus, God intends to both purge the conscience from dead works and purge the awareness of sin, in order enable true service and worship to Him.  Honestly, that’s huge. 

The first passage, Hebrews 9:13-14, exposes two contrasts: dead vs. living, and works vs. service.  Dead works, stemming from the conscience, by definition have no connection to a living God.  The conscience is based on the human soul, while the living God is entirely spiritual.  Work refers simply to expending energy on a task.  Anyone can do “work.”  But service (the Greek word also means “to worship”) can ONLY come from relationship. 

You can’t truly serve someone if you don’t communicate with or know them.  If I had a butler at home (hahahaha!), I wouldn’t him doing what he thinks I want, or what seemed good to him.  He wouldn’t really be serving me in that case, but at best his own image of me.  Instead, I would simply want him to listen to me and follow my directions.  If he did so, I would feel as if he valued me.  This is admittedly an imperfect analogy of God and His people, but I trust it makes some sense. 

Jesus’ blood serves a purpose far bigger than getting people into heaven.  The way has been paved for men to truly know God in the spirit realm, inherit His Kingdom as a son, and follow Him from love, not fear.  It begins now.  But first, the conscience has to be cleansed, once for all.

I may expand on some ideas here in a later blog, there’s a lot that ties in with these things.  Don’t you love truth?  : )  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Selfish Religion

It seems to me the primary goal of all religions is selfish. Buddhists seek Nirvana, Muslims seek heaven and in some cases perpetual sex, Mormons seek Godhood, Christians seek heaven, etc. Maybe this seems obvious or trivial at first, but after a little thought one can see any system that ultimately serves self does not honor another, (i.e. God). Doing or speaking good for an ultimately selfish end is not true love and makes everything a servant of self. Religions glorify and praise God(s) in word, song, and feeling. They advocate various forms of self-denial or hardship in order to please God, as well as advocate helping one’s fellow man. But when it’s all boiled down, the ultimate goal of each is a selfish one, and this totally prevents any true honor of another. Thus we see religion DOES NOT honor God.

I am coming from the perspective of a Christian, having been raised in the Christian world most of my life, and still near it and familiar with it in many ways. I can truly say that the goal of most Christians is to get to heaven and to avoid hell. Many Christians might deny this is their primary goal, but it is. Though this is impossible, if ALL promise of heaven and threat of hell were removed, most of Christianity would crumble. You see, only in freedom does one’s true nature come forth. Only when restraints and fear are removed do you see the true nature of the heart reflected in one’s actions.

Here’s a small example. Lets say a man owned two dogs, who he kept chained on the front porch while he went to work during the week. One Monday morning, after a long weekend, he put the dogs on the porch but forgot to chain them down. When he returned, one of the dogs had stayed right where he was left, and the other had run away. The owner was surprised, because the dog that ran had for years acted just as affectionate and loving as the one who stayed. But by running away, this dog showed that all along, he was loyal to his master only because he essentially had no choice. The other dog showed that his loyalty was from the heart, being proven by the test of freedom.

Freedom could be said to be a test. Only when one is free do you see the true motives of the heart come forth in the actions. Someone might object that there’s not freedom in Christianity, because of the constant threat of hell or judgment. Well, Christianity might teach that, but Jesus himself and the apostles taught that in Christ, we are free. Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), free from law (Ephesians 2:13-19, book of Galatians), free from fear (Romans 8:15), free in God’s love, as a son (John 8:32-36). One thing we’re not freed from automatically is ourSELF. Salvation is a process which involves being freed from the influence of self, which is opposed to God.

It is very freeing to know God has adopted you into His family, that you have been cleansed by a once-for-all sacrifice, and that He isn’t watching over your shoulder to wait for you to sin so He can smite you. There’s many old-testament minded Pharisees today that will tell you otherwise, but this is the truth. For some, if they believed this, they would start pursuing the desires of their flesh/self. To do this is essentially to be your own god. But if you desire to be a disciple of Jesus, if you love the Father simply for who He is, you’ll follow and obey Him from your heart, from love no matter what you may get out of it or what happens to you. This was the attitude of Jesus – to do His Father’s will and to deny himSELF. It wasn’t and isn’t easy. The real goal of a follower of Jesus is to build and establish the Kingdom of God on earth – not to go to heaven. Examine your motives, and I pray we see that the glorious God is greater than we’ve ever known, His love is beyond our comprehension, and living for Him is the highest pursuit of all.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Laodicea

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Many Christians believe that Laodicea, as the final church addressed by Jesus in the first chapters of Revelation, represents the “last days” church age in which we are living now, in which “lukewarmness” is rampant.  Be that as it may, I do think the church of Laodicea closely mirrors many believers today, and so the indictments and counsel Jesus gave her are very relevant for us here and now.  I actually think this is a vital word for our day when properly understood.

I have been taught and believed that Laodicea means “lukewarm.”  But it’s doesn’t.  It literally means something we would almost consider to be the opposite.  Laodicea means “people of righteousness,” or “a just/righteous people.”  It is a combination of the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes (self-righteousness) and maybe in the eyes of others (outward righteousness),  but not in the eyes of the Lord (inward, true righteousness).  I believe God sees righteousness differently than Christians often do.  At the cross of Christ, everything radically changed in terms of what God desires, what pleases Him, and how we should relate to Him.  The Laodicean, “just and righteous” church and anything it may represent is one of which Jesus Christ has not one positive thing to say.

Much is often made of Laodicea being “lukewarm.”  The thinking goes that to be lukewarm means to be apathetic, as evidenced by little or no involvement in ministry, minimal bible study and church attendance, rationalization of sinful activity, etc.  But here’s the main problem with this line of thinking: it’s simply not what Jesus said lukewarm is.  If you read closely, you’ll see Jesus explained exactly why he finds Laodicea to be lukewarm.  This is a conditino that makes him nauseous and ready to vomit. Look at the emphasized part of Jesus’ words below:

(Revelation 3): 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” 

Jesus calls them lukewarm and nauseating because of the self-confident, complacent attitude of their heart and their lack of perception of their true state.  Laodicea says (in their heart): “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”  This literally translates as: “I am rich, have an abundance, and have no need whatsoever.”  Let’s remember, Jesus said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63).  Jesus was concerned only with the Kingdom of God; his Father’s will being known and done on earth.  I believe all of Jesus’ words and teachings were, first and foremost, speaking of spiritual realities.  He came to declare and pave the way for the spiritual kingdom of God, who is Spirit (I wrote of this idea more fully in my very first post on this blog).  The spiritual realm is deep within the “inner man” of each one of us, where the Kingdom is.  The natural, literal/physical mindsets and interpretations of scripture that are prevalent today have contributed to the spiritually emaciated and blind state of so many believers, no matter how outwardly “righteous” they are.

If this is the case, then Laodicea isn’t lukewarm because of their riches and lack of need materially, and they aren’t lukewarm because of their lack of good works.  Their lukewarmness is attributed to their belief that they are spiritually rich and without need.  Laodicea (the righteous people) have come to a place where they are so blind they have no sense of their pitiful condition and desperate need.  The scary part is they probably are totally convinced of their spiritual “wealth,” while Jesus says they are, literally “undergoing a testing, pitiable, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”  Such is the true state of Laodicea, the “righteous people.”  When Jesus’ words are seen correctly, as spiritual states, the horrible and ghastly reality of Laodicea’s condition becomes apparent.  More could be said of each of these states, but the basic meaning of each is sufficient to get the Lord’s meaning.  

Much of Christianity today teaches us to pray a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved, and that once that’s done, heaven is assured.  That’s really the goal of Christianity – to get to heaven and to avoid hell.  It’s not ultimately about God, it’s about SELF.  God is in the picture, but ultimately, only as a means to serve self.  And sure, self is thankful!  The righteousness of Laodicea is a self-righteousness that is based on self-confidence, believing that one has “arrived” and needs nothing else.  Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  But it’s all deception.

It’s hard to overstate how precarious and scary the condition of Laodicea is, especially because those within Laodicea don’t realize their true state (ask God to give you light on your true condition, reader).  However, Jesus doesn’t leave them helpless, he gives them counsel to return to true righteousness.  In my next post I plan to look closer at the counsel he gives.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Essential and Only Starting Point, Pt. 3

After almost 2,000 years, the church by and large still hasn’t understood that the elimination of law elevates Christ exceedingly, because we see that it is only because of his victory and sacrifice that we can be free from law and self-focused fear. We can be adopted as sons because first, Christ yielded his position as son and became the perfect servant, fulfilling, satisfying and ending the law. His incredible suffering, hardship, and pain really only benefited mankind and God. Jesus didn’t get much, if anything, from it. But he honored and carried out the will of his Father regardless.

Today,we are to be identified WITH Jesus Christ and are spiritually IN him, as scripture declares. Scripture refers to Jesus as the “second man,” and the “last Adam,” or the second, final, spiritual ancestor of all mankind, who succeeded where Adam failed. Because of this, if law is satisfied and ended in Jesus it is ended in us also, as those who are, spiritually, in Christ and in whom Christ is.

  • (Colossians 1:27)  …to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
  • (Galatians 2:20)  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.
  • (Romans 6:5-6)  For if we have become united with  Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,  (6)  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…

Again, Jesus’ first declaration was essentially: “Reconsider your old understandings and mindsets and begin to think with deeper perception and understanding, believing the good news that I will be declaring, because in and through me the kingdom and reign of the heavenly realms has come near you and is accessible.” In saying the Kingdom of God was at hand in him, Jesus was saying he walked in the kingdom of heaven (spiritual wisdom and communion witt God), would be declaring the workings of the kingdom of God and was going to pave the way for God’s kingdom to come on earth for all time.

This foundation or paved way for the kingdom of God, which is possible through Christ fulfilling and ending law, is freedom and sonship – only sons are truly free in a kingdom, and only as we are freed from fear of judgment and lack can we truly know God and do His will. But we still have a self-part, a flesh-part of us, that opposes God and cannot know or relate to God (more on this soon, I hope). Thus we must we pick up and carry our own cross to denial and death of self, as Jesus did, if we want to be obedient sons in Jesus’ likeness.  We also must grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and must suffer many things to enter the Kingdom.  It’s not an easy or instantaneous thing, but it’s now a reality.

Jesus was not only telling people to repent and turn from a fear-based, servant mentality toward God, but to turn toward a kingdom mentality of a Father sharing His kingdom with sons who will at the right time inherit it all. Apart from our Father, we are nothing. It’s only as His nature is formed in us that He can trust us. We’re working out our salvation, which is becoming like God, with fear and trembling.  It’s a process.  Repentance and freedom from law are essential, but they are only the beginning of one’s inheritance in the kingdom, and there are certainly many other keys I hope and believe the Spirit of God will lead His church into as religious bondages are broken and shallow, erroneous perceptions are eradicated.

I condemn no one. A kingdom contains both servants and sons. But servants can never achieve the status that sons have, no matter how hard they work or how faithful they are, because of who they are – their identity. Only sons are heirs of the King, and the least son is greater than the greatest servant. Jesus essentially said this: (Matthew 11:11) “Truly I say to you, among those born of women (those up to that time who related to God based on laws kept in human effort) there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” God wants sons who think like Him and walk in wisdom. This is the essential and only starting point.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Essential and Only Starting Point, Pt. 1

In his relatively short (3+ years) “public” ministry, Jesus’ first word of exhortation or was “repent.”  This repentance is the essential and only starting point to inheriting the Kingdom of God and knowing God today.  Therefore it is VITAL to understand what repentance is and what Jesus was saying.  Repentance is very different from what Christianity has made it.

(Matthew 4:17):  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  In the gospel of Mark, this command is recorded slightly differently, as:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God* is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  If we combine the accounts of Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ first declaration was, essentially: “Repent and believe the good news, for the kingdom of God/heaven is at hand.”  The “what” he was telling those who would listen to do was to “repent” first of all, and jointly to “believe” the gospel (i.e. “good news”).  The “why” is that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(*As a slight rabbit-trail; attentive readers may notice that one author records Jesus announcing the “Kingdom of God” and one the “Kingdom of Heaven.”  The phrase “Kingdom of God” always refers to God’s rule on earth, which is the only place He is not yet fully acknowledged as King.  When God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, then the Kingdom of God has come to earth in that space.  In distinction, the “Kingdom of Heaven” refers to the spiritual realm, in fact, the word “spirit” means wind/breath, and the word “heaven” literally means the realm of the air, sky, and beyond.  This realm is invisible to and inaccessible to flesh, and in this realm God is already acknowledged and obeyed as King.   It’s a distinct realm from the physical.  Jesus dwelt and walked in the kingdom of heaven, and brought it with him to earth in order to bring the kingdom of God to earth).

“Repent” in this case is the Greek word “metanoeo.”  This word is a simple combination of two Greek words: meta and noeoMeta has a variety of meaning, but usually means “after,” and sometimes “with.”  Noeo means to perceive, to understand, to consider, to think, to ponder, etc., and carries with it the idea of a mind or mindset that uses uses deep, perceptive understanding.  Therefore, to “repent” means essentially to “reconsider and begin to think with deeper perception and understanding.”  It has to do with the mind and thoughts.  Now, if actions are an outward expression of what first goes on in the mind, then repentance (a change of mind) may well result in a change of ones actions or lifestyle.  A change in behavior or sorrow for wrongdoing are only legitimate before God as a PRODUCT of repentance.  One could have repentance without a noticeable change in behavior, and one could make a radical change in behavior, for the better, without repentance.  This is a big difference.

“At hand” essentially means is near, is present, has arrived and is accessible, touchable.  Jesus was saying that in and through him, the kingdom of heaven was near and the Kingdom of God had come to earth and was going to be declared and made known and accessible.  Therefore, a fuller translation or meaning of Jesus’ first declaration could be:  “Reconsider your old understandings and mindsets and begin to think with deeper perception and understanding, believing the good news that I will be declaring, because in and through me the kingdom and reign of the heavenly realms has come near you and is accessible.  The “good news” we are to believe can only be believed AFTER we repent.  This good news (which is only really good to the spiritual) is the freedom we have through Jesus Christ and the inheritance of the Kingdom of God as His sons that Jesus made possible for us.  This post will be focusing on repentance, but more on the “good news” soon, perhaps.

In one place, Paul summed up his ministry as: (Acts 20) 21 Solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • (2 Timothy 2) 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil…
  • (Hebrews 6) 1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…
  • (Matthew 3, Darby) But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Offspring of vipers, who has forewarned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce therefore fruit worthy of repentance.”

Christianity, in it’s fear-based, self-preserving and self-focused relationship to God, has twisted the true meaning of “repentance” into being sorrowful for wrongdoing and into permanently reforming behavior, which it IS NOT.  Religion is based on fear, particularly fear of judgment and lack.  If this self-preserving fear is present, no matter how covered and deeply buried or repressed, true knowledge of God is absent.  God is love, and there is no fear in love or love in fear.  This doesn’t mean we are unaccountable, it means we are free.  This is another issue I hope to discuss later.

The Kingdom of Heaven was NOT “at hand” prior to Jesus Christ.   Jesus’ declaration makes no sense if it already was, for one thing.  Before Christ came, the relationship with God presented to man was that of law, i.e. rules and regulations, which enabled sin.  Therefore, at the very outset of Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles of Jesus Christ, understanding the vast change in relation to God that occurred through Christ, labored to convince and prove to a law-minded people that relating to God via “law” was worthless, outdated, and undesirable to God.  It is actually dangerous, because it prevents one from rightly knowing or properly relating to God at all.

The religion of Christianity in our day also typically relates to God based on law, thought it has been repackaged in modern wrapping; therefore many of the writings and exhortations which the first apostles gave people in their day still apply to us.  The initial “repentance” that is needed is a switch from a law-based servant mindset toward God to a deeper perception of a son in a kingdom who is to inherit this kingdom – it’s essentially a change from religion to a relationship of son to Father.  Jesus embodied, taught, and then paved the way for this change at the cross.

 
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