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The Parable of the Vineyard, Pt. 3

At the end of this parable, Jesus switches and begins to speak in future-tense, of something to come later.  Jesus says “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (religious leaders) and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”  Allow me to answer a few questions here:  1). What is this fruit?  2). Has the vineyard exchanged hands yet?  3). What or who is this nation that will bear the fruit of the seed the landowner planted? 

Regarding question 1:  The book of Genesis says all seed produces offspring of the same kind as itself.  Therefore, the fruit that comes from the seed God planted is sons of God – those who think like Him and have His spirit.  If this sounds far-fetched, it’s because you’ve probably not been exposed to the plans of God, which are much bigger than religion realizes.  Consider these scriptures:  (Hebrews 2:10): For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory…”  (Romans 8:29): For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.” 

Regarding question 2:  For many reasons I can’t expound on here, (but you can just look around and see it), I do not believe the faithful nation Jesus spoke of, who will will bring the seed to fruition, has shown up yet.  The vineyard was taken from the Scribes and Pharisees, to be sure.  But as prophesied in this parable and elsewhere, Christianity itself has followed the path of the Pharisees.  It’s done this by exalting tradition (thus nullifying the seed – God’s word), silencing His prophets, and rendering the worldwide church, i.e. the body of Christ, immature.  Christianity wants the inheritance (heaven) selfishly.  They don’t truly care about the landowner or His vineyard, only what they can get from Him. 

This is going to change.  The church was prophesied to follow the path of religion and blindness for a season, so this is no surprise or accident.  But we are at the beginning of th third 1,000 year day since Christ, and the 7th 1,000 year day since Adam.  Prophesied to come is the arrival of a people, with no religious identity at all, who will bring God’s word to maturity, repair the hedge, begin making new wine in the winepress, and man the watchtower.  They won’t be religious, but they will follow God in spiritual ways that don’t make sense to many.  Jesus will be their Lord – not in word, but in reality.  They will walk as he walked – devoted to their Father, attentive to his voice, and concerned with truth rather than morality or self-improvement.

If you want to be a part of that people, I believe the surest way is to deny yourSELF (including all the religious knowledge you’ve gained) and seek desperately to hear God’s voice, develop intimacy with Him, and follow Him on a daily basis.  The standard of a follower of Jesus is not ANY religious ideas or Bible verses, but God’s present voice.   He speaks today, Spirit to spirit.  Get your mind quiet and free of pre-conceptions and begin to let Him teach you in the spirit.  Amen.

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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Unity God Desires

A thought came to me last night: God gave what we know as the “leadership positions” in the body of Christ with an end in mind of UNITY, among other things.  Sadly, this isn’t what is readily apparent on the surface of things within the visible “church.”  I believe this unity is in spirit, not doctrine.  This unity is in Truth, not dogma or scripture.  This unity is with God, not other men.  This unity can’t be forced and is not all-encompassing.  This unity is not fully manifested yet, but is coming, and those in this unity are patient and loving with others in hopes they come as well.  The Father Himself will facilitate it in His time, through the revelation of Christ in his body, the church.

(Ephesians 4): 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 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, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—…

You probably noticed “pastors” in verse 11 above.  I was surprised to learn recently that this is the ONLY use of the word “pastor” in the entire New Testament.  Some translations read “shepherd,” which is closer to the intended meaning.  In a typical “church” as we know it today, why aren’t teachers, prophets, apostles, and evangelists as distinct, noticeable and revered as pastors?  All these things are just various functions in the body of Christ.  Nothing more, really.  And they all serve to, in selfless love and humble service, equip all those who have been set apart for the Father’s use by faith in Jesus Christ to then minister to God themselves.

All these functions are only temporary, you’ll notice.  In verse 13, Paul writes all these functions are given UNTIL…  There is coming a time when they won’t be needed anymore, because the body of Christ has manifested “perfect” and complete; this time in spirit in a worldwide, corporate body – the Church.  Christ will literally walk the earth again as a corporate body made up of many “members.”  This is the Church as God sees it.  It’s coming, praise God.  But first, much of what we know and see will have to be destroyed or removed.

A “pastor” is nothing more or less than a member of the body of Christ who is called of God to care for God’s people, as a shepherd.  Not to lead them in the sense of hearing God for them or teaching them (“teachers” are listed as a separate gift), not in the sense of  heading up a “church,” preaching weekly, etc.  This is shepherding in the sense of bandaging wounds of soul and spirit, serving selflessly with zero notoriety or recognition, protecting the weak and wounded from wolves, showing love, etc. – all to lead these sheep back to the fold of their shepherd in good health, to then hear and be led of the Shepherd himself.  An important function, for sure.  But nothing like many Christians know it today.

I simply pray we will all unify under the headship and “pastorate” of Jesus Christ.  This was a prophecy of Paul the apostle and a prayer of Jesus himself.  It will come, but woe to those who oppose it, even though this opposition was inevitable for a time.  A body works in unity when all members respond to the head.  Jesus Christ is the head of the body the church, but many members of it have lost connection with him.  I beg of anyone who believes in Jesus Christ to “forsake all that you have,” as Jesus said (Luke 14:33).  In this case, I ask you to forsake the doctrines you’ve been taught, the way you’ve known “church,” the way you want or think things should be, for whatever reason.  If you don’t do this, you CANNOT be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself said this, as plainly as he could possibly have said it.  

Let me repeat this exclusive demand of Jesus (Luke 14:33 ESV): “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”  Did Jesus demand that every follower of his for all time sell every material possession they have and live on the streets, with friends, or in homeless shelters?  Should we all right now put our homes on the market for sale, then give all the proceeds away?  Or maybe we should, right now, leave our computers behind and walk out the door, leaving our homes, cars, and everything else behind, permanently?  No, that is not what Jesus was talking about.  I believe he was speaking of things deeper than the physical world, as he always did.  I believe he was saying that we must “renounce” everything that is of US.  Everything that WE have accumulated in the invisible realms – our beliefs, preconceptions, religions, doubts, resentments, etc.

To be a “disciple” is to be a “learner and a follower.”  One who follows and learns from their master so closely that they come to look exactly like them.  This is the call of Jesus – to follow him in his example of pursuit, devotion, submission, and obedience to the Father.  If we don’t give up what WE have gathered, how can we follow Jesus?  Either we are going to serve what we have come to know, or we will forsake it all and follow Jesus Christ into ever-increasing knowledge of the Father.  When all do this, true unity begins.  Amen.

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” –Eric Hoffer

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Jesus Christ Died

As we have discussed, modern Christianity has tended to simplify and make more “comfortable” to the human flesh and mind the meaning and ramifications of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  From early on, I (as many others) have not been satisfied with the pat answers and shallow doctrines I’ve been presented with in the church.  As I’ve learned and gained understanding, I’ve had to do an equal amount of UN-learning and repenting (changing my mind and understanding).  As I was hangsing up some coats in the closet a few days ago, the thought came to me: “why did Jesus Christ suffer and die on the cross?”  I know that modern Christianity believes and teaches he did so to save us from hell and take us to heaven.  But I also know it’s deeper than that.  I believe the Spirit of God put this question in my mind to spur a deeper search.

First of all, without chasing a rabbit trail into a vast cavern, I’d like to simply say I don’t think the modern Christian concept of heaven and hell is accurate.  I’m not saying  the understanding is totally wrong, but I think it’s mistaken in many ways.  I say this because studying the death of Christ and the scriptures that teach about it leads to many other issues, including heaven and hell, but it’s dangerous to assume Jesus meant the same thing that Christianity means when using certain phrases or discussing certain topics.  It is VITAL to understand that when, like Christianity, you have a pre-conceived, wooden understanding, (which I sometimes refer to as a “lens” or “filter,”) then most pieces of information that come your way meet one of two fates:  1). It doesn’t get through and is rejected, or 2). It is reshaped to fit through the “filter.”  This is what Christianity has done to many deeper truths.  Keep this in mind and I will probably refer to this idea again.

I think the boiled-down, nutshell reason Christ died is summed up by the apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:18, ESV: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…  I think it’s really that simple, when you boil it all down.  Christ suffered and died to bring us to God.  Of course, what that all means, and how it’s all worked out, is a HUGE topic that I believe is still being revealed today.  But at it’s core, it means just what it says.  It’s not about heaven or hell, it’s not about changing our behavior, it’s about bringing us to God.  It’s God making a way for fellowship with man, one Son bringing many other sons to glory and a knowledge of their Father.  Hebrews 2, NKJV: 10 For it was fitting for Him (the Father), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (true believers) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…

Christianity would like it to end there, with us becoming a son, being good and reclining in comfort for eternity, but it doesn’t.  If adopted as sons, then we should act as sons and participate in the work of our Father, just as Jesus did. John 8, NKJV:   28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

Hebrews 2 mentions sanctification of you and I as an outworking or result of Jesus’ sufferings.  Here is a good time to showcase my earlier warning about “filters.”  Christianity has taught that sanctification is basically a process of eliminating bad things from one’s behavior, until one is “holy.”  This concept is burned into the mind of millions, but IT’S DEEPER THAN THAT.  Sanctification refers to being “set apart,” to God, which is a meaning of holiness.  It’s a process of losing the influence of SELF and gaining the influence of GOD.  It’s a process of coming into union with the Father, thinking like he thinks and growing into His image.  John 17, NKJV: 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one…  You can have impeccable behavior, but look NOTHING like God and be full of pride, falsehood, and false doctrine.  Many are just that way.  In saying Jesus suffered to “bring us to God,” a main aspect of this is to bring us to a place where we think and act like God – in a sense, to bring us to “god-hood,” although not equal to God ourselves.  That only comes as we deny ourselves and the influence of SELF is removed and the spirit of Christ, the faithful Son, replaces it.  1 Corinthians 6, NKJV: 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

I hope to continue this post soon, and I have many more scriptures to share.  I hope it has encouraged you to go DEEPER.  Trust God to take you there, and simply be closed to your own voice, and open to His.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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