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Great Possessions

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The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke each record an account of a rich man who comes to Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Here is Matthew’s account, found in Matthew 19:16-23 WEB (R))

“Behold, one came to him and said, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?(Eternal life is the subject of this entire conversation)He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. (Right away, Jesus challenges this man’s perception of what constitutes “good”). But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to him, “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?” (He and Jesus knew the keeping of law can never make one perfect (literally: “fully mature” or “complete”)). Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect (complete/mature), go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Following law is one thing, but only following the way of Jesus leads to “perfection” or full maturity). But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty” (Jesus compares having “eternal life” with “entering the Kingdom of Heaven”). 

This can be a troubling passage for those with wealth, such as most Americans (did you know if you make $25,000 per year, you earn more than 90% of all people on earth?)1  But is Jesus really saying that if you own anything, you can’t follow him, can’t inherit eternal life or enter the Kingdom of Heaven?  The answer is obviously no.2

To understand what Jesus meant, it’s important to remember that in public, Jesus always spoke in parables, as Matthew 13:34-35 says.  This is why Jesus so often said he who has ears to hear, let him hear, which essentially means “only those with spiritual understanding will apprehend the meaning of my words.”  So, let’s look beyond the obvious, surface interpretation to the spiritual.

After the man goes away, Jesus tells his disciples a rich man will “enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty.”  So, somehow poverty helps one enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  This reminds me of Jesus’ earlier sermon on the mount, in which he said: Blessed are the poor in >spirit<, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”3  As I’m going to try to demonstrate, it wasn’t this man’s material riches that were the issue, but his spiritual ones!  To those with ears to hear, to “sell all you have” isn’t speaking of physical/material things, but inward things, of our heart – things like our own understandings, our own ways, and anything of our own which give us a feeling of security and confidence before God.  These are the “great possessions” which hinder us from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  We have to become poor in spirit, to do so, which I will explain.

Matthew 13:44-46 records a couple small parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven: “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  Do you see that?!  The price quoted to the rich man for eternal life and the price these men paid to get the kingdom of heaven is exactly the same – all you have!  Whether you have “great possessions” like the man who approached Jesus, or possess very few things, the Kingdom of Heaven is still going to cost the exact same price – everything! 

Those who own “great possessions” are those who, in their own eyes, are secure and confident before God based on their obedience, their doctrines, or any number of their own ideas or ways.  They are like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:17 of whom Jesus said: Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”  This man’s “great possessions” were based on his strict adherence to the law.  He said that though he had kept the commandments from his youth, he still “lacked” something.  What he lacked was poverty of spirit.  

Jesus said “a rich man will enter into the Kingdom with difficulty  because those who find security, confidence, and comfort (i.e. “riches”) before God based on ANY of their own understandings, ways, or behaviors, will feel they have the most to lose. Both outwardly and inwardly, the more you have and the more valuable it is to you, the harder and costlier it is to give it up.   Very often it is religious and devout people who have the hardest time “selling what they have,” because they feel their possessions are divine and of the utmost value and importance.  Also, in many cases, forsaking one’s religious ways will also mean losing one’s family and friends.  But we CANNOT follow Jesus, inherit eternal life or enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we do so.  One reason for this is that nothing “carnal,” that is, nothing which has it’s origin in our human nature inherited from Adam, can exist in God’s spiritual presence.  Trying to follow Jesus and worship the Father in spirit and truth while holding on to Adam’s ways (though we may see them as divine) is like trying to make yourself lighter by picking up bags of sand. 

Notice the stark difference in the two men.  The rich man who approached Jesus “went away sad” at the prospect of selling everything, while in the parable about the Kingdom of Heaven above, the man joyfully sells all he has.  This is simply because the rich man felt he had a lot to lose, while the second man did not, realizing how valuable the treasure is and how empty his possessions were in comparison.  When you see that, selling everything becomes joyful!  What Jesus told the rich man here is basically the same thing he said in his famous statement in Matthew 16:25: “For whoever desires to save his life (holds on to his own ideas and ways (religious or otherwise)) will lose it (God’s spiritual, eternal life), and whoever will lose his life (sells all he has, gives up his own ways) for my sake (in order to follow Jesus’ way) will find it (eternal life and the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven).”  You could say that to “sell what you have” is to lay down down your very life.  That’s why it’s also referred to as “all you have.”  

I also noticed an amazing similarity between all this and what Paul said about himself in Philippians 3:6-9:

…concerning the righteousness which is in the law, (I was) found blameless (in other words, he had great wealth). However, what things were gain to me (the things that made me rich), these have I counted loss for Christ (he sold all he had). Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him (because he recognized the far greater worth of eternal life and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, he sold all he had with joy), not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law (his own riches), but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (being rich by virtue of union with God in Christ, receiving eternal life and entering the Kingdom of Heaven)…”

Sell what you have, go ahead and file for bankruptcy and become poor in spirit.  It’s ok, your Father is extremely rich and will take care of you.  He’s been waiting for you to return to the family business, and your business was actually losing money anyway.  Mourn if you need to, but know that bankruptcy is necessary and is the beginning of a spiritual walk.  You will end up rejoicing and walking in deeper spiritual places than ever before, without having to fake it or stifle the persistent feeling that something is missing.  

I can’t give you an exact guideline of what to do, or say just how it will look in your case.  Let the spirit of God lead you, seek and trust him to do so.  The Kingdom is within you, the spirit of God is within you – trust that fact and if you need to, start over!  It’s ok   : )   God bless you…

 

 

  1. http://irememberthepoor.org/3-2/
  2. The early believers owned homes and had possessions (though they willingly shared them with each-other).  At times, the apostle Paul would collect financial offerings, so we know believers had money to give.  Additionally, in 1 Timothy 6:17-18, Paul’s counsel to wealthy believers isn’t to sell everything and give it away, but to not trust in their riches and to be willing to share.
  3. Matthew 5:3

 

 

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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be…Blind?

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“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”1 -Jesus

I recently re-read this parable, and purely as a gift I was able to see it from a new angle that amazed me. I always thought this parable was basically about being careful of judging others because I’ll be judged in the same way (which is true and amazing on its own). But what I saw is that the real issue Jesus is discussing here is much bigger; what he’s really discussing is sight. Judgment becomes a blockage to the bigger issue of our ability to “see,” as well as our ability to help our brother to see (perceive spiritual reality as it is in Christ, without filter or distortion).

According to the greatest prophet who ever lived, if a fellow believer has something hindering their spiritual perception/vision, you cannot help them if you approach them with an attitude of judgment, condemnation, or criticism. That very attitude becomes a greater hindrance to your own sight than the one you’re trying to remove in your brother. I think this is why Jesus referred to those who try to help others while judging them as hypocrites. It becomes another scenario of the blind leading the blind, and both of you will end up wandering off the way and into a ditch.

An attitude of judgment and criticism comes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree/source makes one more aware of natural things such as the law, sin, and self; things that the religious people whom Jesus called “sons of hell” are very aware of and fond of talking about, but things that God doesn’t deal with. We need to start eating from and leading others to the Tree of Life once again, where there’s no condemnation, but grace, mercy, truth and Life. One of my favorite scriptures is John 1:4, which says:  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was full of LIFE, and it’s only that life that dispels and conquers the darkness and death that are within us and which often cover themselves with religion.

Again, the “plank” in the eye that Jesus talked about is an attitude or heart of judgment. The main lesson in this teaching isn’t that we have to quit sinning before we can confront the sin in someone else, it’s that if we confront someone in an attitude of judgment, we become more blind than they are and cannot truly help them to see reality in the spiritual realm (in light of the cross).  Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. He said he judges no man, but came to seek and save the lost.2  Certainly, Jesus was far from the emasculated lovey-dovey figure many have made of him, and he often stressed the need for repentance and the severity and hardship of being his disciple. Nevertheless, he didn’t come telling the world how terrible they were (he saved that for the religious hypocrites). Instead, he came declaring truth and made a way, the way, for reconciliation with God. Paul wrote “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”3 This is good news to those who love God, because the way has been opened – not the way to get to heaven and have a pleasurable existence, but to have the honor of knowing God and participating in building His kingdom as a son or daughter.

 

  1. Matthew 7:1-5, NKJV
  2. John 3:17, 8:15; Luke 19:10
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:19
 
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Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Dying to Enter (Lazarus and Rich Man pt. 3)

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This will be my final and most comprehensive look for now at Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  For those who are new, it has nothing to do with physical death, heaven, or hell.  It has everything to do with the promise God made to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ and given to all men, the arriving of which reversed the roles of the spiritually rich and spiritually poor.  Anyway, read on and it will make more sense.

Luke 16, NKJV: 22 So it was that the beggar (the Gentiles, those shut out of fellowship with God) died (experienced the ending of the season of the law and prophets at the coming of Christ), and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (began to partake of a new season of spiritual kingdom-seeking, typified by Abraham, whose promised blessing preceded and didn’t relate to law or Israelite ancestry). The rich man (Judah/Jews) also died (both died at the same time – the change in spiritual seasons happened to all simultaneously) and was buried (permanently lost all relevance and authority).  Notice: ONLY the rich man was “buried. 23 And being in torments (testing, affliction) in Hades (the unseen realm, place of blindness, powerlessness, death), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (Lazarus, not he, inherited the promises given to Abraham).24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham (Pharisees saw themselves as Abraham’s children because of their bloodline), have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water (get even a tiny amount of Truth) and cool my tongue (undo the effects of his perverse teaching which came from his perverse heart – see here); for I am tormented (literally: sorrowful, grieving) in this flame (intense affliction, purification). (Notice: in the old season Lazarus desired  crumbs from the rich man, and now the rich man desires just a fingertip of water from Lazarus.  There is a great role-reversal).  25 But Abraham said, ‘Son (Judah was Abraham’s great-grandson and the Jews were descendants of Judah), remember that in your lifetime (during the recently-ended season of the law and prophets) you received your good things (their life of “luxury” – the luxury of having opportunity to be a part of God’s people and partake of His covenant and blessings), and likewise Lazarus evil things (his life of spiritual hunger, lack and helplessness); but now (in the new season) he is comforted (desired, invited) and you are tormented (grieving, in anguish, sorrowful, mourning). 26 And besides all this, between us and you (between the season of law and season of fulfillment) there is a great gulf fixed (some say this is representative of the Jordan river, which divided Israel from the Gentiles),2 so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (the change in seasons is irreversible).27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house (Judah’s descendants, the Jews), 28 for I have five brothers (Judah had five physical brothers), that he may testify to them (declare the truth of the new season of the kingdom of God through Christ and warn of resisting it), lest they also come to this place of torment (affliction, testing). 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them’ (the law of Moses and the prophets actually pointed to Christ and the new season he would bring, but most Jews were shut out of it because of their religious pride, resulting in hard hearts, blind eyes and deaf ears). 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent (change their perception from natural to spiritual). 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”  (Again, their religious pride caused the Jews to be ignorant or openly resist the very thing their precious law and prophets pointed to – the spiritual fulfillment arriving in Jesus Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead).  

Jesus made a very telling and important statement immediately before he told this parable: 

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

These words, especially regarding marriage and adultery, seem to be out of place.  But remember, in the Greek he starts the parable by using the word “now…” meaning the parable continues his previous thought.  Therefore, divorce, remarriage and adultery somehow tie in with the ending of the season of the law and prophets and the beginning of the season of spiritual kingdom-seekers.  It has to be seen spiritually to make sense.

If marriage is seen as an exclusive covenant of devotion between two parties, then the Jewish religious leaders were very much “married” to the law. With a new season arriving with Jesus, the Jews, particularly the religious leaders, faced a dire problem with two components: 

  1. The only way out of their covenant/marriage to the old season of the law and prophets was for one of the parties to die (either them or the law).
  2. According to Jesus, it is impossible for the law to fail, or “die.”  Therefore, as long as they were alive, those in covenant with the law could not relate to God within the new season of spiritual reality without being adulterers against their covenant of law.

Paul, a former Pharisee, understood and wrote about this predicament, most plainly in Romans 7:1-6:

 (ESV) Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?  For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.  Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions (literally, the “sufferings of sin”) aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

So here’s a rephrase of what Jesus said: “Everyone in covenant with the law commits adultery by pursuing the spiritual kingdom of God outside that law.  Also, since God is divorcing and ending the covenant of law in me in favor of a new, better covenant made with all men, from now on anyone who enters into covenant with the law will become an adulterer against the new covenant.”  The good news is everyone is free from marriage/covenant with law, which only strengthened sin and death, not because the law passed away or died, but because in Christ we died!  Every single one of us.  Paul states this many times throughout the scriptures.1  This parable is just an elaboration of this truth, specifically given to the Jewish religious leaders, but very much applying to everyone.  Our death with Christ and freedom from law is a very deep subject which I haven’t seen the depths of and won’t try to here, but it’s absolutely at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The question I have is what ends up happening to those (whether Christian or not) who don’t see or refuse to accept their death with Christ, and continue to live their lives?  I do believe there will be great sorrow and anguish like the rich man experienced, but I’m not convinced it’s eternally permanent.  I don’t fully know, but I don’t want to find out, and I don’t believe those who seek the kingdom need to personally worry about it.

Finally, lets look at Abraham.  The name Lazarus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Eliazar.”  In the book of Genesis, we learn Eliazar was Abraham’s chief servant, who before Abraham had sons and grandsons was going to inherit Abraham’s estate.  Some have pointed out that by helping Abraham’s son find a wife, Eliazar was helping shut himself out from Abraham’s inheritance.2 That just strengthens the interpretation of Lazarus as those who desired God’s kingdom and promises but were shut out until the right season arrived.  Lazarus being taken to Abraham’s bosom is the Gentiles, by faith, inheriting the promise made to Abraham’s seed, Christ.  These aren’t physical blessings, but spiritual ones.  Are you glad about that, or disappointed?  The answer to that will tell you a lot about where your heart is.  In Galatians 3, Paul wrote extensively about Abraham’s promised blessing superseding Moses’ law, which was only temporary until the fulfillment of that promise.  Here’s some pertinent quotes from that chapter:

  • “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”
  • Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”

  • “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

As convoluted or inadequate as they may be, I hope these blogs have helped you to see Jesus better and to hunger and thirst for God’s kingdom and righteousness on a more authentic and deeper level.  Things are far different than most of us who grew up in Christianity have been taught.  What God desires (and will get) is a household of sons and daughters with the mind of Christ, who worship in spirit and in truth, who walk in love, and who seek to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  Religion may use similar words and make similar statements, but all that religion knows and promotes, be it ever so good and beautiful, comes from their own darkened mind which eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and cannot satisfy or please God.  That’s hard to say, but it’s true.  God would have us eat of the Tree of Life again, walking with spiritual understanding and no awareness of sin or condemnation (death) which come by law, but with an awareness of life – His spirit, presence and kingdom.

  1.  Colossians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6…
  2. http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030602.htm
 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The True Meaning of the Rich Man and Lazarus Parable: Specifics!

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Some wrongly insist that of all Jesus’ parables, this single one is to be taken literally, because first names are used like Abraham and Lazarus.   If you’re interested, here you can find a well-written piece providing much evidence that this is indeed a parable and not a literal illustration.  In this post, I’m going to look at who or what is represented by Lazarus, the rich man, and their death.  It’s essential that we understand that this parable is simply a continuation and elaboration of what Jesus was saying in the preceding verses during his conversation with the religious leaders of Israel.  Here is what Jesus was saying which led to this parable (NKJV):

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.  16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.  (Now) There was a certain rich man…”

Allow me to rephrase what he said to make his meaning more clear:  

“You (Israel’s religious leaders) make sure to appear righteous in the sight of men, but God is not fooled.  He sees the corruption of your heart and detests your hypocrisy – using the allegiance and respect of men for your own gain, while in reality you are blind, foolish, and spiritually destitute. Therefore, according to the will of God, a new season of spiritual reality has begun, beginning with John.  God no longer regards those who keep laws, but those who seek the Kingdom of God with spiritual violence.  But woe to you, religious leaders, because the law cannot go unfulfilled, and since you are bound to the law by oath like a marriage, it would be like adultery for you to pursue the spiritual Kingdom of God outside of the constraints of that law.”  

The Rich Man:

To those in Jesus’ day about 2,000 years ago, the rich man typified the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the Jews (the word “Jew” refers to the descendants of Judah, which is relevant as you’ll see). You’ll notice, in the parable Abraham refers to the rich man as “child.” This is because, as scripture says clearly, the Pharisees saw themselves as children of Abraham (and thus entitled to the blessings promised to him)1.  Genesis chapters 29-30 state that Abraham’s descendant Judah, from whom the word “Jew” originates, had five brothers, and in the parable the rich man specifically mentions his five brothers.  So this rich man represents the Jewish religious leaders, who Jesus so often warned and derided.  The Pharisees live on in scripture as a representation of those among God’s people who promote and follow the way of religion.  Therefore, for us today, the rich man in this parable represents those who promote the way of religion, which is that of natural understanding, natural perception, self-awareness, fear, and attempting to appear good or gain favor with God by a code of conduct and set of beliefs.  

Jesus purposely describes the lifestyle of the rich man like this: (Darby Translation): “…he was clothed in purple and fine linen, making good cheer in splendor every day.”  Purple was the color of royalty, and linen was worn by priests.  These then represent the rich man’s royal lineage as a descendant of Judah and his elevated status as a religious leader.  The Pharisees’ were content and confident (“good cheer”) in their law-keeping and knowledge, and they enjoyed the respect of other men due to their outward piety and grandiose appearance and behavior (“splendor every day”).  But as we see in the parable and as Jesus said elsewhere, they did nothing to help those they saw as “beneath” them, certainly not at the expense of their comfort or their law.

Religion began the moment Adam ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (which I wrote about in more detail here), and the twisting of mind/heart that happened at that time still pushes us toward religion today.  The spirit of Christ will push us towards freedom and the establishment of the kingdom of God, based on love.  Jesus was warning us that while the way of religion can be appealing, it is subtly very dangerous. Religion offers many enticing benefits and appears wonderful on the surface, seducing many well-meaning men and women into following it whole-heartedly, and once they are within it’s constraints, religion uses various means to keep them there, such as providing comfort, promising reward, threatening punishment, and persecuting or ostracizing those who would leave.  But in the end, religion brings nothing but spiritual destitution, torment and death.  

What’s amazing and scary is how similar Jesus’ description of the rich man is to the description of the immensely evil Babylon the Great in Revelation 18, who is described this way: “…she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, “I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ 3  The rich man and Babylon are kindred spirits, both typifying blind, stubborn, deceptive religion, which fuels pride and self-centeredness, but for which Jesus died to free men from (among other purposes).

Lazarus:

The name Lazarus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Eliazar,” which means “surrounded/helped by God.”  (It’s not a coincidence that according to Genesis 15, Abraham’s chief servant and one-time heir was Eliazar!  More on that next time).  In Jesus’ day, Lazarus represented those (mostly Gentiles) who desired to be a part of God’s people, but remained helplessly shut out and oppressed.

Lazarus desiring the crumbs from the rich man’s table reminds me of Mark 7:25-29, where a Gentile woman comes to Jesus asking him to cast a demon out of her daughter.  He tells her that the children (Jews) should be given bread (God’s favor and blessings) first, then the dogs (Gentiles). But the woman replies that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table.  This answer, which demonstrated authentic and prophetic faith, impressed Jesus and her daughter was immediately set free.  Unlike the rich man (religiously confident Israel/Judah), Lazarus had no supply of bread (law and prophets, Jewish bloodline and covenant, doctrine).  

Lazarus was oppressed by evil spirits and evil men (the dogs licking his wounds), but was unable to improve his situation, remaining oppressed until he and the rich man “died.” For us today, Lazarus represents the violent kingdom-seekers who Jesus said were replacing those whose confidence before God was in their religion based on the law and prophets.  The Lazarus kingdom-seekers are humble, desperate and often overlooked and shunned by the religious; people who desire God from the heart and are not confident in their own knowledge or works.  Religion tends toward routine and rigid formulas, but the Spirit doesn’t work that way.  Of the two men, Lazarus was actually the one blessed in God’s sight, because as Jesus said in the “beatitudes,” the blessed are those poor in spirit, mournful, meek, merciful, peacemaking, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, pure in heart, and persecuted for righteousness…4  

Their Death and “Afterlife”

After describing the state of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus literally says “it came to be” (meaning God’s timing/season had arrived) that both died, at the same time!  That is very significant!!!  Remember Jesus saying immediately before telling this parable that the law and prophets were “until” John?  Since John had already come, Jesus was saying there was a new season in place and the old season had ended, or “died.”  The death of the old season came to both types of men simultaneously.  Death in this parable represents the ending of the season of the law and prophets which began with Moses.  The “afterlife” in this parable represents the effects of the new season.  Once the law was fulfilled and superseded, the tables turned.  The rich man became tormented, as he lost all his comforts and basis for his self-righteousness, while Lazarus begins to be comforted by Abraham, who Paul’s writings remind us predated Moses and the law, and whose promise from God was not attached to the law or prophets, but was attached to Christ.  The new season, still in effect today, was that of the spiritual, violent kingdom-seekers, of whom Jesus was the first and of whom we have the privilege and right to be as well.  

Summary:

  • Rich man = Jewish religious leaders (and those today who promote/uphold religion, especially at the expense of sacrificial love). 

  • Lazarus = Gentiles and seekers of God’s kingdom who had been shut out of covenant/fellowship with God. 

  • Death = the ending of the season of the law and prophets.

  • Afterlife = the dramatic change resulting from the beginning of the new season of spiritual Kingdom-seekers.  

With the primary characters and their death now explained, in my next and final post of this series I am going to look more at what Jesus describes after death and what the ramifications are for us today.  Thank you for reading, God bless you.      

  1. 1.Matthew 3:9, John 8:39

  2. Genesis 29, 30

  3. Genesis 15:2

  4. Matthew 5:2-12

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Riches and Poverty in a *Spiritual* Kingdom (True Meaning of Lazarus and Rich Man Parable pt. 1)


lazarus dives 3

While many reading this are probably familiar with Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:14-31, allow me to summarize it for the purposes of this post:  

Jesus says there were two men: a certain rich man, and a poor man named Lazarus.  The rich man’s life was one of continual ease and enjoyment.  Poor Lazarus’ life was the opposite – he frequently laid outside the rich man’s gate, covered in sores, which dogs would come and lick as he laid there helpless.  Lazarus greatly desired to eat and receive satisfaction from even the crumbs that would fall from the rich man’s table, but he was never welcomed or given anything.  In time, both of these men died. Poor Lazarus was taken to “Abraham’s bosom” and was comforted, while the rich man found himself in Hades, where he was tormented.  The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus cool his tongue with water, but Abraham says this cannot be done. He then asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them, but Abraham says they had Moses and the prophets to speak to and warn them, and if they wouldn’t listen to these, then they also wouldn’t listen even to someone who rose from the dead.

Several times, I’ve heard this parable used as a warning against the terrors of hell and as an illustration of the setup of hell.  Usually, the idea presented is that torment in hell likely awaits those who ignore or oppress the poor.  However, this parable isn’t about hell or giving money at all.  Let me say again, THIS PARABLE IS NOT ABOUT HELL OR GREED AT ALL.  It’s a –>parable;<– you have to see past the obvious, surface meaning (the natural interpretation) to see the deeper meaning (the spiritual).  It’s mandatory to see that Jesus tells this parable in the context of the lengthy discussion he was having with the Pharisees about their hypocrisy and their illegitimate confidence before God in the law and the old-covenant prophets. It was this confidence in the righteousness of the law that Jesus was actually discussing, and this discussion actually begins in Luke chapter 14 or 15.  If you read carefully, you’ll notice Jesus begins the parable by using the word “now,” meaning it is just a continuation of his current train of thought.  That train of thought is clearly stated in the verses immediately leading to this parable, which are these:

(Luke 16:14-19 NAS77)  “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. Now there was a certain rich man…

Believe it or not, the intent and meaning of the Lazarus and Rich Man parable is to illustrate the revolutionary division which Jesus instituted and proclaimed (remember his “winnowing fork” from my last post?)  This division is between two ways of relating to God: the way of self-righteousness and confidence before God based on one’s observance of laws and regulations, and the way of total self-denial based on receiving the life of the spirit and pursuing the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.  The former way is that of the religious.  It appeals to the flesh and fosters pride, rigid tradition, and hypocrisy. The latter is the way of God’s sons, which appeals to the spirit and fosters humility, evolution, and freedom.

In my next post, to come soon, I’m going to look at specific details of Jesus’ statements both before and in this parable, which should shed more light on what he meant in the telling of this parable and how it still relates to us today. Maybe you can re-read it in a new light and see some things there that will help guide your walk with the Father. I hope you’ll check back in a few days. God bless you.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Mushrooms

mushrooms

A man decides to go explore a forest near his home, wondering what he might find there.  However, being inexperienced, he soon becomes lost.  Finding no food for several days, he begins to starve.  While wandering around one day, he comes across a clearing full of mushrooms.  His famished body desperately wants to eat them, but he knows some are probably poisonous.  Feeling helpless and unsure what to do, he suddenly remembers a survival guide he had packed in his bag, containing pictures of nearly every type of edible mushroom which grow in the wild.  All of a sudden this survival guide, which he had almost forgotten about, becomes extremely valuable to him and plays a very important role in his survival.

Before the man began to starve, this guide wasn’t important to him, he had no real need for it other than just being curious.  As well, until he actually found the mushrooms, the mere pictures of the mushrooms were essentially worthless, as they could give no nourishment to his starving body.  But once he found the clearing of mushrooms, these same pictures allowed him to identify and eat the actual mushrooms which COULD provide nourishment, strength and life.

The New Testament scriptures (the Bible) are kind of like this survival guide.  The Bible seems useless until you’re hungry (recognize your spiritual poverty).  Even then, the Bible can’t nourish you itself – it’s just ink on paper, like the pictures of the mushrooms.  But like the guide, what the Bible can do is help you avoid poisonous “mushrooms” (ways of belief) and recognize and find the mushrooms which can be eaten and provide (spiritual) nourishment and strength.  This is why wisdom and understanding (which require diligence and revelation) are so important – if you misread the survival guide, then even though you think you’re following it, you still can end up injured, starving, or poisoned.  This story also illustrates why it’s important to WALK the path of truth, and FOLLOW the spirit, because only by moving forward can you encounter new things which can give life to you and others after you.

If this man had “set up camp” somewhere instead of continuing to seek new territory, he would not have found the mushrooms and likely would have died.  This is  like many Christians – they “camp” around certain truths and ways of understanding, never going forward or looking for anything more.  In many cases, they have done this so long that they have begun to think the pictures of the mushrooms in the guide (words and descriptions in the Bible) are the actual mushrooms (spiritual realities) themselves.  They have mistaken the depiction for the reality.  Because of this mistake, they starve spiritually yet don’t even realize it.  But because this man refused to camp, he will now be able to update the survival guide for future travelers, helping them to find and benefit from the mushrooms in the clearing he found.  Maybe someone reading this will be diligent to seek new spiritual ground in Christ and will be able to add to the survival guide and help other travelers who follow you in finding the same spiritual realities you found by your pioneering ways.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Rich Toward God, pt. 2

gold-207585_640

I believe all Jesus’ parables are given to believers, and each time a man is spoken of, he represents a group of people.  This rich man represents a “church” which is carnal, or led by her darkened mind.  Immediately after making up his mind to build bigger barns to store up his grain and goods, God addresses him directly: You fool! (literally: “one without perception!”) This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  To be seen as a fool by the God you claim to worship is truly sad. 

Jesus concludes this parable by contrasting two ways of life, which I believe are mutually exclusive:  “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  The foolish rich man planned and labored to “lay up treasure,” i.e. to get ease and security, for himself.  As I mentioned before, it’s possible to, by all appearances, be very good in doing this, but the real issue is the SOURCE of the plan and action.  In this case, the source was this man’s own mind/soul. 

Being “rich toward God” is entirely differentRich toward God” literally translates “rich toGod,” meaning to be rich in God’s sight, or: “to possess and be that which God finds desirable.” The “rich toward God” have an inward ownership of spiritual riches such as wisdom, understanding, and fruit.  They are those who have been given eyes to see, ears to hear and have used these senses.  They have nourished the seed of God’s Word and life in them, and are producing a crop of spiritual fruit.  The independent soul of man cannot and will not value the things God finds desirable. No amount of success in any plan or goal which came from one’s own reasoning will survive the testing fire of God, thus the result will be “poverty toward God!”  We have to be so careful and diligent on this issue, because the transition from soul to spirit/Adam to Christ is not instant or easy, and many in their blindness continue to walk foolishly and will lose everything they worked for.

If we want to follow Jesus, we MUST NOT live from and according to that life and realm which is done away in Christ,1 which God has no desire for or dealings with.  Again, this can be called many things with fair accuracy: the old man, the carnal/fleshly/natural mind, the Adamic nature, soul, ego, self, natural life. This is the realm which in Christ has been done away, and what we must continue to reject.  It’s this we are to be set free from.  There is no other option – to follow Christ’s way requires rejection of self/flesh/Adam/soul/carnal mind/”reason.”  Jesus said so himself.  To persist in blindness and carnality, no matter one’s behavior or beliefs, will result in the loss of everything.

I think everyone is either storing up treasure from and for themselves, or coming to possess spiritual wealth in God’s eyes by seeking His word, heeding it, and humbling themselves (in other words, by following the way of Jesus).  If you sense truth in this, sincerely ask God to lead you to true wealth and seek Him diligently.  Repentance is always step #1, and it’s simply changing your mind to conform to what God is showing you by revelation.  I am leaning towards making a part 3 sometime in which I look at the famous teaching Jesus gave immediately following this parable, which makes more sense when you keep this parable in mind.  Maybe I’ll do so in a video.  I hope this blog is something the Spirit of God can use.  God bless you.

 

1. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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