December 07, 2014

Jesus, Our Elementary Foundations


“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from works that lead to death, and of faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” (Hebrews 6:1-3 PAR)
 
This section of scripture, though wholly divine, assumes much. It assumes that we, the Body of Christ approximately 2000 years after the writing of the Book of Hebrews, have been instructed in the elementary teachings of Christ. But have we?

There are six elementary foundations or “milk” bottles to the life of faith. These elementary truths, doctrines and experiences make up the rock on which we stand, Jesus Christ. Without them our Christian lives are built upon the sinking sand of the adamic nature.


The six foundations are:

Repentance from works that lead to death

Faith toward God

Instruction about baptisms

Laying on of hands

Resurrection of the dead

Eternal judgment

We are about to address each foundation individually. Although we cannot cover them as thoroughly as would be proper, we will discuss each level enough as to give a hunger and drive to seek the Holy Spirit for more. As we go through the levels individually, you will see that not one mention is made of Bible reading, praying, confirmation, going to church, tithing, or believing in pre/mid/post-millennial tribulation/rapture as foundations. Nor are Immaculate Conception, communion, submission & authority (headship, covering, ring kissing, kissing up, and other hierarchal misconceptions), spiritual warfare, biblical watchdog-ism, voting republican and witnessing two-by-two on bicycles. Nor are daily devotions, confessing for Cadillacs and Rolexes and handsome, financially viable Christian husbands, biblical correctness and the conviction to rebuke those who are not believing correctly, being on the prophetic cutting edge, and myriad other goofy and not as goofy Christian concepts and practices. We will understand that the Lord Jesus Christ, JESUS CHRIST ALONE, is every believer’s elementary foundations.

Now, let’s look at the foundations individually:


Repentance from Works That Lead To Death

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 NIV)

To repent from something means to turn and go a different direction than before. The Greek definition for the word “repentance” as found in Hebrews 6 is —


Change of mind, repentance, the state of changing any or all of the elements composing one’s life: attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living; note that this state can refer to the foundational salvation event in Christ, or to an on-going repentance in the Christian life.

To repent essentially means to change the heart and direction and actions from something bad to something good. Yet not everything that needs to be repented from is outward and evident. Often to repent from something means to turn away from a practice or a belief that is considered positive or even godly by society, even Christian society, thereby turning to Jesus.

For instance, religious externalism is something that needs to be turned from — even externalism with the Christian label attached. True religion — a biblical term found in the Book of James — is not something believers are expected to be affiliated with, but is the Christ-inspired actions that flow from lives filled by and yielded to the Holy Ghost. In living by the compassionate nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, sons and daughters of God care for widows, orphans, the hurting and the poor, doing many charitable acts for them. These acts are not done as to lead people to faith in Christ, nor are they done to promote a religious order or organization, but because Jesus within His people loves and serves others.

Many people are attracted — and some are addicted — to religion because of the good it does. And that’s a reasonable opinion: religion does good. There are many godly people, anointed messages, soul salvations, miracles, feeding of the poor, etc., within organized religion. Yet mixed within all that good and godly stuff is that which is ungodly and antichrist. Jesus Christ dwells within His people, even when His people gather within godless organizations and temples. But to think that Christ’s presence DESIRES to be mixed and clothed with that which is ungodly is false.

Many of God’s people are held captive to the Babylonian system (Revelation 17 & 18), and God’s Spirit is held captive inside them. The Heavenly Father desires people to leave their chains and bondage, no longer being much needed bricks for Babylon’s steeple to reach to the skies. Jesus will eventually call and lead His people out of captivity if they will allow themselves to be internally led by Christ’s unconventional, non-religious Spirit. 

Isaiah 52:11 reads,

“Go now, leave your bonds and slavery. Put Babylon behind you, with everything it represents, for it is unclean to you. You are the Lord’s holy people.” (NLT)

Apostle Paul said,

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17 NIV)

Revelation 18:4-5 reads,

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.’” (NIV)

Repentance from religion is important, but the spirit of religion is not the only thing that must be turned from. Believers should also turn from other influences — both good and bad — in the kosmos or world-system. As stated in an earlier chapter of the book, the New Testament word WORLD is the Greek word KOSMOS, meaning: DECORATION; AN ARRANGED ORDER OF THINGS. The world-system is a worldwide web, humanistic blueprint and invisible organization that seeks to unify everyone and everything to it. Today to think and act according to the world system is to function as a normal human being. The kosmos typically looks good, feels right and appears spiritually, socially and politically correct. But it is still a man-centered and godless beast of a system, and a lie and an offense to Almighty God!

Jesus had plenty to say about the kosmos —

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:16 NIV)


“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18 NIV)


“I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me....” (John 17:9 NIV)

Jesus desired for His disciples to know what the kosmos was about; and by understanding it, they would choose to live free from it. (Though in it, not of it.) His desire has not changed.


James 4:4 reads,

“I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God.” (NLT)

Jesus took no thought for the world. For Him, the world and its enticements were passing away. Jesus found His citizenship in heavenly places (Philippians 3:20). Believers in the church today should be seeking Christ’s Kingdom and His righteousness, no longer desiring to be conformed to the pattern of the kosmos. Instead they should conform to the reality that they are merely sojourners on the earth, not citizens of the kosmos in need of further entanglement.

Repentance from man-made systems of government, networking, science, education, medicine, news media, entertainment, morality (the good side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), business, world-finance and worldly relationships is part of the separation and cleansing needed to live as righteous heirs to Yahweh’s Kingdom. Through the work of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Repentance) inside us, our hearts become disconnected from worldly entanglements, and properly connected to the Lord Jesus Christ and to our new and true family: the Body of Christ. This turning away from the worldly realm unto Jesus is part of the daily relationship we share with Him, and not just a one-time event. Every day the Spirit of Christ and the Word of God washes our minds and hearts, transforming us into Jesus’ nature. With minds and hearts renewed, the remaining step is to turn away from actions and relationships that were once inspired by and tied to the kosmos. Repentance from the world system unto Christ ultimately separates us from what is commonly known as the religion of Christianity.


Faith toward God

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV)

Faith is a small thing, a very small thing. But when planted, watered and allowed to grow, it becomes a big thing, and sometimes a really big thing. As faith becomes a big thing in a person’s heart and soul, wonders begin to occur. And the at-one-time impossibilities of life start becoming possibilities, realities, and “Thank you, Jesus!” things.

A person’s faith grows in thirty, sixty and hundredfold fashion. The thirtyfold is the blade, the sixtyfold is the head, and the hundredfold is the full grain in the head (Mark 4:28). Anything that a person desires to obtain from the Lord while upon the earth must be sown for to obtain. To harvest a crop of forgiveness, salvation, healing, deliverance, gifts of the Holy Spirit, administrative gifts, favor and/or prosperity means to faithfully operate within the principles and seasons of seedtime and harvest. It was Jesus who taught the thirty, sixty and hundredfold harvests (Matthew 13:8). The Word of God also supports a thousand-fold harvest (see Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 1:11).
The Word of God is seed for every need, powerful seed with the nature of Christ in the composition. Sowing seed by speaking God’s Word eventually manifests fruit in the form of blessing, healing, deliverance, salvation, etc., upon the earth. Faithful perseverance toward God and His Word yields increasing and profitable blessings: blessings for the flesh, blessings for the soul, and blessings for the spirit. It also yields a wonderful and eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the awesome Holy Spirit, and the precious Heavenly Father.


THIRTYFOLD FAITH —

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23 NIV)

Thirtyfold faith is the seed of saving grace — the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Himself — planted within the humble human spirit, that cleanses, saves, heals and delivers a person, supernaturally translating him or her into the Kingdom of God. It’s the newly redeemed, blood washed, Spirit-filled, hungry-for-the-next-riveting-word-from-God sort of faith experienced by passionate new believers. It’s the kind of faith that stretches out its withered hand toward Jesus, and is restored in the stretching. It’s the faith that believes Jesus can do absolutely anything, and He wants to do it all today. It’s the radiant-glow kind of faith that jumps up at church testimony time and praises God for life and breath and showers and flowers. It’s the I’ve-just-realized-my-spiritual-authority kind of faith that never turns a doorknob or walks past a liquor store without exercising some sort of spiritual dominion. It’s the twist-arm kind of faith that seeks to convert everyone in the neighborhood to love Jesus, and the I-always-say-what’s-on-my-mind sort of faith that challenges those who already do. Thirtyfold faith is wonderful, but it needs to grow.


SIXTYFOLD FAITH —


“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him....” (Philippians 1:29 NIV)

Sixtyfold faith is the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ operating through a son or daughter of God toward the Heavenly Father. It’s the faith that is ready to wear the mantle of Jesus that hurting people desire to touch:

"...and all who touched it were made whole." (Matthew 14:36 PAR)

This faith is the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ inside a person toward the Body of Christ and toward the needy of the world. This faith is not only unto salvation, healing, deliverance and prosperity, but is also unto persecution and hardship, death and resurrection. This faith accepts the destruction of the self-nature so that the Son of God is able to live His nature through the broken soul. This faith is the communion and communication of Christ and the Heavenly Father inside the human spirit — one that walks and talks with God in gardens of glories and gardens of Gethsemanes, and thrusts God’s chosen sons and daughters beyond the realm of time and space, supernaturally setting them at the right hand of God. And though this faith is amazing, it needs to grow.


HUNDREDFOLD FAITH —


“But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38 NIV)

Hundredfold faith is the Heavenly Father’s faith inside the mature Christian soul. It’s the faith that takes a man or woman beyond the painful experiences found in sonship training to the glories and mysteries beyond. It’s the faith that propels trustworthy people beyond the Outer Court and Holy Place, beyond the sacred veil of Jesus’ flesh, into the Heavenly Father’s forever being. It’s the faith that uses few words to say much. It’s the faith that operates in God’s power without pride or pretense. It’s the faith that yields and rests and does not strive. It’s the spirit of true sonship, where the Father and Son are no longer separate identities but have merged together as ONE; and the matured soul becomes part of the merging.

“...so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11 NIV)

Such is the faith that calls people to the Father’s side and into His holy breast; and once they enter that place of rest, they never ever leave.


Such is the thirty, sixty and hundredfold progression of faith.


Instruction about Baptisms

To be baptized means to be immersed into —become one with — someone or something. There are a number of foundational baptisms the New Testament refers to, yet all are a revelation of Jesus, who is:

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism....” (Ephesians 4:5 KJV)


BAPTISM INTO REPENTANCE / WATER —


“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:4-5 KJV)

Baptism into repentance for the forgiveness of sins was the immersion that John the Baptist was known for. He prepared men and women’s hearts for Yahweh by baptizing them in the Jordan River. By doing so, he pointed people toward the Messiah who would later take God’s children into further baptisms. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River as a sign that He, too, was identifying with mankind’s brokenness and need for repentance.

Matthew 3:15 reads,

“Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’” (NIV)

Isaiah 53:12 reads,

“...and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (KJV)

Paul said in his letter to Colosse,

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3 NIV)

This is what we as believers understand as the reason for water baptism: By going into the depths we are prophesying the death to our old nature and simultaneously participating in the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ. By being lifted up out of the water we are prophesying of new life in Jesus’ resurrection. But note: Being baptized into Jesus’ death and burial is merely vain drama unless accompanied by a resolve to live out (become united with) the Lord’s experiences of death, burial and resurrection on an ongoing basis.



BAPTISM INTO THE HOLY GHOST —


“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost...’” (John 20:22 KJV)

Before Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Heavenly Father, He breathed upon His disciples giving them the Holy Spirit. They received the Holy Spirit by faith, yet didn’t utter a sound. At Pentecost — at the time of the birth of the Early Church — Jesus’ selfsame breath entered the room where 120 people were waiting and worshiping. They were all filled with the breath of heaven, the Holy Spirit, and began speaking in other languages. Jesus Himself was filled to capacity with the Holy Spirit, yet the Bible never details whether He spoke in tongues. All of us too should desire to be filled to capacity with the Holy Spirit, causing us to live and speak and work and thrive by Jesus’ own life. Some believers will speak in other tongues, others will not. Most importantly, we should focus on living our lives by the breath of heaven, the Holy Spirit, and not focus so much on the tongue.


BAPTISM INTO THE CLOUD —


“They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud....” (1 Corinthians 10:2 KJV)

As followers of Christ, not only are we to be baptized into the sea (water baptism) but also into the resident cloud. The Holy Spirit inside His people as an abiding presence or cloud, lifts and moves individuals within Yahweh’s divine leading (whenever and wherever the Spirit goes, we go too). Apostle Paul said:

“...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 NIV)




BAPTISM INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST —


“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body....” (1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV)

To be baptized into Christ also means to be baptized into His Body. This is not referring to the Sunday morning and Wednesday night practice of goin'-t'-chu'ch, but the day in and day out LIFE of the Church. To be baptized into the true form of the Church means to leave the worldly religious mindset with its me-centered spirituality, and thrive within a new form of humanity — the many-membered spiritual Body of Christ whose head is Jesus Himself. Being baptized into Christ’s Body means to lose one’s own sense of separateness and individuality for the sake of the fullness of the Church.


BAPTISM INTO FIRE —


“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11 NIV)

Jesus came to baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The fire of the Father burns away the chaff (the non-essentials) in our lives, causing our minds and affections to become purified into Jesus’ mind and affections. This is what happened to Jesus as He was purified by the fire of the Father into the Father's passionate nature. The work of the Spirit of Fire is a laborious but wondrous work of sanctification. Through it, the Lord leads and settles His people within His intended place of rest for them — life beyond the veil within the Holy of Holies. Apostle Peter said:

"...don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world." (1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV)




BAPTISM INTO JESUS’ SUFFERINGS —


“‘You don't know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with....’” (Mark 10:38-39 NIV)

Jesus was immersed into Yahweh’s sufferings. He encountered sufferings from the time of His infancy in Bethlehem and His family’s escape into Egypt, until the time of His agony in Gethsemane and His death on the cross. There is a certain measure of hardships and sufferings — a covenantal cup to drink — that every man and/or woman on the road to sonship in Christ must drink. It is within these sufferings that humility is obtained, maturity is gained and authority given.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)


Laying On Of Hands

“But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” (Luke 22:69 NIV)

In Bible typology God’s right hand signifies His mercy, power and authority. Jesus Christ is not only at the right hand of God, Jesus Christ IS the right hand of God! He is the Heavenly Father’s power and authority who holds the universe and heavens together (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus shares His power and authority with His followers. Here’s how that is realized:


GREAT EXPLOITS —


“While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’ Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.” (Matthew 9:18-19 NIV)

Jesus laid His hands upon sick people and healed them by the power of the Heavenly Father’s incredible love. All the people He touched were made whole. To experience Jesus’ healing touch means to yield to the wonder of His powerful love. The Heavenly Father SEEKS healing and health for all who have faith; Jesus heals ALL who have faith.

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2 NIV)


Jesus conferred spiritual authority upon His disciples to heal people — to lay hands upon the sick and to anoint them with oil. Compassion is the open door to God’s wonderful and powerful healing touch. People of faith lay hands upon the sick; the power of God heals them.


TRANSFERENCE OF BLESSING AND SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY —


“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” (Matthew 19:14-15 NIV)

In this scripture Jesus transferred the Heavenly Father’s blessing to children through the laying on of hands. We, Jesus’ disciples, can transfer God’s love, approval and spiritual blessing to people through the laying on of hands. Acting out the compassion of Jesus is Christ’s life lived through us.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV)

Apostle Paul laid hands upon his spiritual son Timothy for the impartation of a spiritual gift. Transference of spiritual authority shows that the Heavenly Father’s nature has come to maturity and is being duplicated through the matured son or daughter. Paul’s apostolic gift came through sonship maturity, yielding a wonderful harvest in the raising up of spiritual sons (Timothy and Titus were sons) that he could impart spiritual authority to. He took Christ’s example of discipleship to another generation, showing a beautiful example of the yielded life, one of living by the Heavenly Father’s life-giving nature.


GOD'S HAND EXTENDED —


“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

The Heavenly Father visits the earth through His five-fold ministry within the Body of Christ. He uses selected sons and daughters to reveal the person of Christ: Evangelist; the path of Christ: Pastor; the mind of Christ: Teacher; the heart of Christ: Prophet; and the passion (the death, burial and resurrection) of Christ: Apostle. The Heavenly Father’s matured sons are the right hand of God.


Resurrection of the Dead

We as believers experience Jesus’ power over the grave as we mature in Christ. The foundation of Resurrection of the Dead touches the Body of Christ on three levels:

RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH —


“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NIV)

Jesus’ flesh rose from the grave after three days in the tomb. Because all believers share Jesus’ experiences, we have the promise that though our flesh dies, it will again be raised. One day all saints in Christ will again inhabit the earth. They will do so not in perishable bodies, but imperishable ones — bodies with elements from both perfected realms, heaven and earth.

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8 NIV)

Jesus gave His disciples the authority to raise corpses from the grave. The Bible reports several resurrection accounts, ones not performed at the Master’s own hands. Great miracle power is meant to be upon the earth today through the ministry of the Body of Christ. Disciples of Christ can raise people from the grave because Jesus within them is Resurrection and Life, and can’t help but manifest that powerful nature upon the earth.


RESURRECTION OF THE SOUL —


“I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:31 NIV)

As a believer grows up into the nature of Christ, something unsettling occurs: hardships and persecutions increase! These hardships and persecutions enter as participation in Christ’s sufferings, persecutions and cross. They enter as lethal blows to the carnal mind, will and emotions. This is the cross that Jesus invited His disciples to carry (Luke 14:27), the death that all mature Christians undergo (1 Corinthians 15:31). The disciple dies to his or her self-nature again and again, becoming resurrected into the Lord’s selfless nature.


SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION —


“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4 NIV)

Salvation is the experience of moving from spiritual death to spiritual life. Thus, God raises people from a spiritual grave when they’re born again.

“Then he said to me: ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.” (Ezekiel 37:9-10 NIV)

Not only must every disciple come into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (experientially, not merely doctrinally), but the hundredfold revelation of resurrection from the dead moves a step beyond that of resurrection for the individual to a multimembered resurrection of the Body of Christ from the dead. (The whole Church undergoes the same experiences as Jesus Himself does.) In this unfolding revelation is found one of the greatest mysteries of all: Christ resurrected and reigning in every member of the Body of Christ individually, and in the Church as a whole.


Eternal Judgment

The left hand of Yahweh signifies His hand of judgment. That makes Jesus the left hand of God as well as the right hand. Matthew 25:33 reads:

“He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.” (PAR)

It seems that the bulk of common knowledge of Bible judgment consists of, “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” “You’re judging me!” is a pretty common statement intended to keep probing Christians from getting too close to a person’s golden heifer.

The biblical teaching of judgment is a massive one, occupying more space in the Bible than any other subject. It is also the last of the elementary foundations for the disciple and the Church. Jesus said:

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:1-3 NLT)

Jesus’ chat on the hilltop (men have coined the term “Sermon on the Mount”) was a lesson on the Kingdom of God given to a motley crew of young disciples. The principles Jesus outlined there were foundational principles meant to be implemented by the junior believer. Those principles — along with the life of the Judge, Jesus Himself — are to mature within the disciple’s heart, resulting in a Kingdom that perfectly reflects the nature of King Jesus Himself. That makes it pretty important to know how Jesus judges things.

Jesus judges from the position of one who was judged. He was judged by Yahweh God, hanging upon a cursed tree in punishment for mankind’s treason. Now because of the cross, Jesus judges. But His judgments are not like human judgments that spring forth from human law, moral fairness or the shifting sands of rightness and wrongness. Instead, His judgments are divine judgments rooted in humility and complete understanding. The only safe way for a person to judge anyone or anything is by the humble nature of Christ Himself manifesting through a contrite heart.

Jesus Christ is the Judge of the universe — His authority was bestowed on Him by the Heavenly Father. Even when Jesus was walking upon the earth He was a judge, but not like a human judge or arbiter. He came representing the Heavenly Father’s nature, and set a new and perfect standard for mercy, righteousness and judgment. Jesus said:

“You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:15-16 NIV)


“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30 NIV)

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ was one of showing the nature of the Heavenly Father; it was not so much in judging sin. Jesus seemed more interested in revealing the hidden nature and motives of men than outwardly judging them. But take note, when Righteousness walked into a room, town or nation, sin was automatically and immediately uncovered and judged. Without the need to speak a word, Jesus lived the righteous nature of the Heavenly Father and set a perfect standard for judgment.

Let’s elaborate on what is meant by a “standard.” A standard is a rule of measure, something that other things are measured by. The Lord judges people by setting up standards. Those standards are usually selected people, sometimes things that God has ordained to measure other people and things by. Jesus is the most obvious standard, but there are others. Let’s look at some:


THE QUEEN OF SHEBA —

The Queen of Sheba visited Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign; she recognized and honored the sovereign order of Israel’s king and Israel’s God. Jesus said:

“The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:42 NIV)




THE MEN OF NINEVEH —

When Jonah gave a message of condemnation to the people of Nineveh, they repented by fasting and wearing sackcloth. Jesus said:

“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” (Luke 11:32 NIV)




THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST —

Jesus said that the miracles He performed would stand as a witness to condemnation —

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-22 KJV)




WEALTH —

Apostle James rebuked the rich, claiming that their gold and silver would eventually condemn them —


“Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.” (James 5:3 NLT)




MOSES —


Moses was a standard of judgment that Yahweh raised up before the Jewish people, especially before those who opted to live by law instead of grace. Jesus said:

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (John 5:45-46 KJV)




THE DUST —

When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into towns and villages to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and heal the sick, He said that if the townspeople were to refuse and reject the message, they were to shake the dust from their feet. Here, even the smallest particle of dust can be a standard of judgment —

“And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them." (Luke 9:5 KJV)




THE TWELVE DISCIPLES —

Jesus’ disciples were also made a standard of judgment — they were given authority to judge all Israel. Jesus said:

"I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:28 NIV)

Besides the authority to judge all Israel, the disciples were given the power to judge the Church under their care. The death of Ananias and Sapphira at the command of Simon Peter, spoke resoundingly to Early Church believers (Acts 5). Apostle Paul was the standard of judgment raised up for the non-Jewish churches.


The Church of Jesus Christ itself must become mature enough to judge difficult situations that arise. Such tasks should be left — whenever possible — to more mature Christians. If a disciple has been faithful to walk in his or her elementary foundations and is maturing into the Lord’s nature, the Lord will set that person apart as a standard of judgment in the Church (whether aware of it or not). Elder believers should take oversight in matters concerning younger believers. Not with an attitude to lord it over them, but with humility that is willing to oversee them — perhaps like a caring parent or elder brother — so that their lives go well.


As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are meant to be standards of righteousness and judgment. But first we must take on the attitude of Jesus Himself. Though He was Judge of all, His greatest mission to the world was showing love and mercy to people, paying a price to redeem humanity with His blood. Most of the judging that the saints of God are meant to do is relegated to the future. But meanwhile, faithful believers are called to be witnesses, standards and prophetic voices for their generation.




There is one final aspect of judgment we will take a look at. Apostle Paul said:

“Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3 NIV)

It is pretty obvious which angels are in need of judgment. The fallen angels — one third of all angels — will be judged both now and in the future by the Body of Christ. Ever since Jesus instructed His disciples regarding their newfound authority (men have coined the term “The Great Commission”), disciples have been displacing and judging the fallen angelic realm. Disciples cast out demons and overturn the works of Satan, offering no respite. This work of grace will continue until every enemy is made a footstool for every believer’s feet.


Jesus said,

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19 NIV)

Isaiah 24:21-22 reads,

“In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days.” (Isaiah 24:21-22 NIV)


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September 14, 2014

Be Kind

"A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel
man brings trouble on himself." (Proverbs 11:17 NIV)


The New Revised Standard Version reads:

"Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm."
The New Living Translation reads:
"Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel."
Are you being kind to yourself or are you being harmful? The Lord cares about how you treat you. Today would be a good day to give yourself a break, maybe cut yourself some slack and do something nice for you.

Jesus' two-fold law of love reads,

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30 NIV)

"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31 NIV)
To abide in Christ and to walk with Him means to walk in love. Loving God should be our first and most important duty and delight. Our second duty is important too: We must love our neighbors, essentially everybody else on the planet, as we love ourselves. It is obvious here that we must first love self before we can love anyone else. We should honor, care for, be forgiving toward, use gracious self-talk regarding, and be kind to ourselves, and then to others around us.

Self-denial is not a bad thing, for it was encouraged by Jesus Himself (Luke 9:23). But it can be damaging if taken to the extreme, or used outside the context of godly discipleship, or used as a law to punish the flesh and/or self-nature, or used in a way that frustrates or punishes others. It is just as important and biblically sound to be kind to the flesh and soul—but not so kind or soft as to allow the flesh-nature to become an idol or a self-absorbed monster.

Today might be a good day to regroup, rethink, or maybe take a deep breath and choose kindness toward self.

To you who are over-disciplined or rigid, maybe you should go shopping today and buy yourself a nonessential: some perfume or cologne, a new pair of flip-flops, a worship CD, some fishing tackle, or maybe a goofy hat; just because you want to. Perhaps at lunch you can eat a few more bites than is normal, or you can splurge on that rich chocolate dessert you usually ignore. (And then later in the day refuse guilt when it comes knocking on your stomach lining). Perhaps you can stop at the video store and rent a silly romantic comedy and watch it while relaxing in a bubbly tub. It's important to be kind to yourself from time to time. Why not today?

To those of you who are under-disciplined and your incautious lifestyle has caused you harm, maybe you should make some choices and some plans for your well-being. Why not stop smoking, stop overeating and/or undernourishing your body with the wrong kind of food? Why not let go of that unforgiveness, worry or fear, lose those few extra pounds, or start doing whatever sort of exercise that would get your heart pumping? Maybe now would be a good time to start a disciplined prayer life or a Bible reading discipline. Why not be kind to yourself and put your life on a track that will help and no longer harm you?

King Solomon said, "Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm." (Proverbs 11:17 NRSV). Today seems like as good a day as any to take Solomon's wise advice.

June 09, 2014

Sacrifice

Faith is willing to sacrifice the best — even the gift that has been granted by God. The price attached to faith typically pierces the soul. 

The greatest test to a man's faith is in the laying down of a son.

First, faith follows Jesus to the foot of the cross. Eventually it follows Jesus upon the cross. Such is the losing of one's own faith and the gaining of Yahweh's.

The cross in a disciple's life creates weakness to the carnal nature, yet is the seedbed for great faith and miracles.

People who turn away from Yahweh's discipline and correction invite poverty and destruction (Proverbs 13:18). Those who embrace God's discipline are wise.

Resurrection life is the goal of faith; death on the cross is the means. There is no lasting faith without the cross.

Faith's security is in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus not only HOPED that the Heavenly Father would raise Him from the dead, Jesus believed that the Father HAD raised Him from the dead. Faith brings into time and space that which has already occurred in the IT IS FINISHED realm of the Spirit.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (Romans 6:8 NIV)

May 18, 2014

Working World




If a person works primarily for money, he or she has fallen short of God's best.

It is common for a Christian to think that he or she can pursue a job, change a job or quit a job at will. Christians should submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Once a person becomes a bond-slave to Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22), he or she becomes a bond-slave to Christ’s will.

When working within the world system (kosmos), a born again son or daughter of God should not constantly be striving for success, happiness or a hassle-free existence (1 Peter 2:18). Instead, they should seek to serve their employers as if they were serving the Lord Christ (Ephesians 6:5). A Christian should not try to “fit in” to the world system, for such conformity is deemed as spiritual infidelity by Christ (James 4:4). God created the realm of Babylon (kosmos, world system) as a tool of punishment and captivity for His people (Jeremiah 25:8-11), not as their land of opportunity!

A Christian need not seek to rule systems of government, finance, or any other worldly system. If Yahweh desires someone to be in authority, He will lift that person to position through a unique breaking process. Both Joseph (son of Jacob) and the Prophet Daniel were examples of this. Christians today who seek worldly position and success are more of a detriment to Jesus’ Kingdom than a blessing. Jesus never gained rule or anything else through self-promotion.

Jesus laid down His life to save people from the world, not to save the world system. The nature of the world system is that of prostitution (Revelation 17:5). It’s not seemly to befriend such company; nor is it logical to expect honor or “fairness” from such a whoredom system.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NIV)


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