Five Years of SiGGiT and A url Change

It hardly feels like it, but SiGGiT is about to have its fifth anniversary on December 21st.

When I started writing this blog, I had some ideas that I wanted to get out there. I wanted to share on spiritual experiences both I and other believers in Jesus Christ have had and also the rock solid truths of scripture.

The direction the Spirit ended up leading me in was to write about the deep, simple, and clear gospel of grace. Little did I know that my own experience with grace was about to be increased in 2011. God surprised me with His goodness as He so loves to do. I thought I knew grace (and did to some extent), but needed to drop the gospel ad-ons. The revelation began to be and continues to become purified.

This is still where I am as I realize that I really only have one message: Christ and Him crucified, the eternal gospel. This is by in no means limiting. The riches of Christ are unsearchable; yet He wants us to search them out. To be mature is to focus on the one thing you were made for. It is realizing that there is only one well that never runs dry and drinking only from that one.

Also, I am about to make a change to the website. After re-thinking the site, I am changing the url from siggit81.wordpress.com to the much more easy to remember: soaringingrace.wordpress.com

cross_in_sky

The traffic to the old siggit address will be re-directed for the time being once the change is made. I just thought that the new name is easier to remember.

I was actually thinking of changing the blog name to something like, “Back to the Gospel” or “Return to the Gospel”, but these names were taken already. I then thought, “Hey, God gave me that name over 5 years ago. Maybe I should ask Him what He thinks.” So I did. The very next day, there was  a post on escapetoreality.org that contained these words:

Grace doesn’t make people lazy; it makes them supernaturally fruitful. In contrast with the law that provides no aid to those who trust it, grace makes us soar. A 300-year-old poem from John Bunyan expresses this perfectly:

Run, John, run, the law commands, But gives us neither feet nor hands. Far better news the gospel brings: It bids us fly and gives us wings.

“Okay God, I will keep the name,” I thought. So let’s keep soaring on the wind of the Spirit of grace. It sure beats trying to flap up with the broken wings of man-made religion and tradition. Let’s explore the depths of the gospel truth that there is not a brutal tyrant but a loving Father on the throne and He has good news for His creation.

Since starting this blog, I am amazed at the increase of what is being said about grace and the true nature of the gospel. I have seen rich, freedom giving truth being proclaimed as well as stuff that seemed legit, but led to confusion and denied scripture. I have seen people who I admired and followed go after things that have no clear Biblical backing, but are popular among certain grace circles. Although I do not have all the answers, I have to keep on walking with Jesus and value only what He says to be true. Freedom really is found in Christ, not human philosophy. We cannot nor do we need to add or take away from the gospel in order to make it the best news in the Universe.

But be encouraged, my friends. Are there counterfeits out there? Of course, just like there are counterfeits to everything in God’s true plan for creation, which He called “very good.” Are there people who are coming against the true message of grace and not simply exposing falsehood? Of course, just like there were those who accused Paul of the whole, “let’s sin so grace can abound” stuff 2000 years ago. Guys, I think history has shown Paul was right.

This is nothing new my friends. Be warned, but do not throw the truth away. Run, but don’t throw all caution to the wind and embrace every fancy catch phrase on social media about the gospel. Stick to the Bible as your map and the Holy Spirit as your Tour Guide and you can’t go wrong.

In conclusion, may His love so fill us in 2015 and in this Christmas season.  May we soar into new heights of the joys of sonship as we become more grounded in the rock-solid righteousness we have as a gift. And lastly, may we keep Jesus at the center of this wild and untamed journey.

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As He is Love, So Are We in This World

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world (1 John 4:17).

This is one of those verses that I find mind-boggling. As God IS, so are we? Wait, not one day in the sweet by-and-by, but in THIS world. Really?

Throughout my Christian life, I have heard that verse  preached in ways that implied  we are “as He is” in power. “You have the same Holy Spirit Jesus had and can do the miracles He did.” I do believe and preach that we are to do the works of Jesus as His Body, but that is not really the context of the verse.

The verse that precedes it is the one that says, “God is love.” This gives a whole new meaning to “as He is, so also are we”. It is saying that we are the expression of God’s love in the Earth. We, through partaking of the divine nature, ARE love.

When we think that we “need to try to love” or “need more love”, we will be aware of our apparent lack rather than focused on the new thing Christ has done in us. God’s intent is that we become love so that we cannot be anything else. He tells us to walk in love since we are His children, born of His Spirit, with His nature.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Eph. 5:1-2).

Do you think God has trouble loving people? Do you think He is up in heaven saying to the angels, “Hey guys, those people on Earth are so hard to love. I’m really trying to love those politicians and homosexuals and am struggling. What’s even harder is loving my church. You’ve seen how the whole representing Me to the Earth thing has gone pear-shaped, right?”

God is not trying to love. He IS love. Likewise, as He is, so are we in this world. As someone recently said, “the oak trees don’t need to get oakier.” The born again don’t need to be born again again and again… We simply grow in faith, which is our connection to the new nature of love which is ours in Christ.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude (Col. 2:6-7).

Don’t be discouraged if you notice things you say or do that are not loving. Just this week as I have been meditating on and preparing this post, I have noticed many thoughts and actions that were not inline with love. But the good news is, I don’t like it when that happens and know God has a more excellent way for me in which I can walk. There was a time in my life where I would have justified the behavior.

We are all growing into love. The good news is that this is now who we really are in identity. That is why it feels bad when we give into temptation and violate love. We are not trying to love, but growing in the love that is our new nature in Christ.

One might ask, “If we are love, then why do we need to become love?” In the Spirit, this is who we are as God has made us new. I believe we are to become love to people and places here on Earth. Love is always other-centered. This is how we become love; by giving ourselves for others. After all, love is love when it is given away. This is how we will become love to a loveless and lost world.

For God so loved… that He gave.

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God Will Not Rest

We have been hearing a lot about the finished work of Christ and entering God’s rest. This is a very important message indeed. We are to cease from our independent efforts at righteousness and trust in Christ as our righteousness and salvation instead.

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His (Heb. 4:9-10).

But when we do this, God actively goes to work in manifesting His righteousness through us. There is a powerful prophetic passage in Isaiah where God says He will NOT rest when it comes to something. Here is how it reads in the AMP translation:

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her imputed righteousness and vindication go forth as brightness, and her salvation radiates as does a burning torch (Is. 62:1).

“Wait, that was for Israel”, one might think. But clearly we can see that there is a strong reference to the new creation in Christ, which Paul refers to as also being God’s Israel in Gal. 6:14-16. If we keep reading, it goes on to say:

And the nations shall see your righteousness and vindication [your rightness and justice—not your own, but His ascribed to you], and all kings shall behold your salvation and glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name (vs. 2).

God’s righteousness ascribed to us… Being called by a new name… this sounds like the new birth to me. So this passage is God’s burning desire for His bride. He longs for the righteousness He has given us as a gift to be go forth as brightness and to be seen by the nations.

But what is righteousness exactly? I am in the process of writing a book which explores righteousness in detail. But for the time being, for practicality’s sake, I am defining it as God’s way of making things right and His way of living right. It is not so much a particular action, but a state of being where we live under the favor and influence of His kingdom.

We who have heard the grace message preached afresh in recent times know that righteousness is God putting us in right standing with Himself, not us trying to be and do right. So God makes us right. But it does not stop there at the root. It goes onto fruit as He then intends on manifesting His righteousness (His way of being and doing right) through us.

It is not as if He gives us a golden ticket that says “you are righteous” that we need to submit on the last day. He actively goes to work in the believer for the purpose of His righteousness being worked in us and through us. The good work He begins, he completes (Phil. 1:6). In fact, according to Isaiah, He does not rest until this happens.

The work is finished in the sense that there is no further sacrifice, no act of human performance, that could possibly make us more acceptable and perfect in God’s eyes. Now, God is actively working the finished work of Jesus in our lives. Rick Joyner once said that Jesus Christ IS the finished work that the Father is working in us (I am paraphrasing).

The idea that God simply gives us mercy and then does not empower us to live like Jesus and sin no more is anti-grace. I have heard throughout my life that Christians will always sin. When we do, we confess, repent and so on until we are back in “fellowship” with God who has to put up with such sorry “dual-natured” sinners as us. Let’s hope He does not get “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to the redeemed.

Grace is then relegated to God simply tolerating and pardoning us without transforming us. For those who believe such things, they probably don’t want to read the letter of 1 John as it will blow those ideas out of the water. In it, John gives us hope for IF we sin as believers, not WHEN we do (see 1 John 2).

I have seen people get furious when you start talking like this. “How dare you say that we can live without sinning! What arrogance!” But wait, how could John have said, “ He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked?” (see I John 2:6)

This is not a threat. “You better walk like Jesus or you ain’t saved, fool!” This is an amazing promise in a sense. In the next chapter of John’s letter, he gives us clarity as to how we can walk just like Jesus.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him (1 John 3:6).

When we abide in Him, His life becomes our life in a practical way. Since He does not sin, neither will we when we abide (stay) in Him.

God is intent on making this happen, having us fully abiding in Christ at all times. Likewise, we believers are to labor with Him in seeing Christ formed in men as we see in the same chapter of Isaiah:

 I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence,

 And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth (vs. 6-7).

God is at rest for the work has been done. Yet He will not rest until the reality of His salvation and our identity in Him are realized. We are at rest and complete in Christ, yet we look forward to increasing revelation and manifestation of our position in Christ. I believe this word to be burning in God’s heart for us in this time in the Body of Christ.

… as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Is. 62:5b).

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Draw Near to the One Who Never Leaves

In the book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit gives us both an exhortation and a promise. He says to draw near to God and also reassures us that He will never leave us or forsake us. If He never leaves, why draw near then?

It is important that we see the whole picture here. We have what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest promises in Scripture.

…for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)

Earlier in Hebrews though, we are told in a couple of places that we are to draw near to God. In the New Covenant, we do not throw away the concept of drawing near to God; it’s just a bit different now that He has already taken up residence within us.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22)

Here is how we are to draw near:

  • with a sincere heart 

Other translations say “with a true heart”. I believe this not to refer to examining your every motive and nasal gazing, but simple honesty. We acknowledge our need for God and whatever it is we have been going through, but (as the next line reads) with full assurance of faith that we are beloved children who stand not in our own righteousness but in Christ’s.

We can come boldly no matter what kind of day we are having. When we sincerely are aware of this, the result is not fear of judgement, but a vulnerability to grace and mercy. This causes faith which works by love to rise in our hearts.

It would do us no good if we approach Gods presence without being honest about our current situation. This will take us out of faith and back into self-righteousness as we think God is looking to us to atone for our own sins or complete that which HE began in our lives. A sincere heart is one filled with joy. It knows does not allow the fact of our struggle to outshine the truth of our place in the Father’s heart of pleasure towards us.

Sincerity without faith is just us trying to make ourselves acceptable to God in some way. But faith cannot remain true faith without sincerity. Yet again, faith is not about our strength reaching God, but us leaning into His embrace as all idols and self-help religion fall to the wayside.

  • in full assurance of faith

Paul tells us that the law is not of faith in Galatians chapter 3. Full assurance of faith here is referring to faith in Christ’s finished work.

If you were a Jew in the time Hebrews was written, access to the Holy of Holies was forbidden unless you were the High Priest on the day of Atonement. You had better have a full assurance of faith. Of course, he is not talking about the physical temple, but referring to intimacy with God; a relationship where He withholds nothing from us, which causes a child-like abandonment in us to do likewise.

  • having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience

The evil conscience is  not referring to a “seared” conscience that is okay with doing evil and then feels no remorse. It is a conscience that condemns us and causes us to think of God in a way that is not true to His nature. It caused Adam and Eve to hide from God and cover themselves in their own fig leaves (self-righteousness), not curse God. It is a religious conscience; what some translations refer to as a “guilty conscience”. It is one that is aware of sin and the need for justice but not aware of the answer (atonement) for that sin. The Hebrew worshipers would have been well aware of this type of conscience as we are told in the beginning of the 10th chapter:

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. (vs. 1-3)

Moreover, this conscience is mentioned in the previous chapter of Hebrews and it is pretty clearly talking about the religious conscience that has not been enlightened with the truth of Christ’s work and the subsequent New Covenant of grace:

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

The power of the blood of Jesus is alive and active today. It has the ability to completely change our awareness from being afraid of God and judgement for sin to being aware of our forgiveness and acceptance as sons. The Hebrews to whom this letter was written were tempted to go back to Old Covenant practices or mix them in with the new way.

This is one of the main reasons we must continually draw near. It is all too easy to fall back into an evil conscience and not be aware of our position of favor in Christ.

  • having our bodies washed with pure water

Sprinkling and washing; these were two separate activities involved in the Old Covenant temple practices. Not only was blood sprinkled, but the priests would bathe in pure water before entering the Holy Place. They recognized that their bodily vessels were set apart for God’s purposes.

Notice that here, these two are past tense. Having been… sprinkled and washed. I believe the washing refers to God setting us apart as His temple through whom He plans on manifesting Himself and establishing His Kingdom.

The early church recognized that it was not just the spirit that God was after and that He would call it up to Heaven at the end of Earth life. They also recognized that the body of the believer had become the temple of the Living God.

You will see a common theme throughout the NT, where sprinkling (cleansing from sin) and washing (bodily dedication) are in tandem. In Romans 6, the famous grace chapter, Paul says to reckon yourself dead to sin but alive to God (v.11). But right after that, he says,

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

You have been (past tense) made righteous and your bodies are now instruments of God. The instruments were likewise washed in pure water when they were set apart for temple use in the OT. “Presenting ourselves to God”  is to be intentional upon expecting God to continually manifest His righteousness through us as He did when we first came to Christ. He will confirm us until the end (see 1 Cor. 1:8). This is not referring to the “earn it to keep it” salvation that is still rearing its ugly head and putting the church into bondage.

It is important that as we draw near, we understand that God has set us apart as priests who represent Him on Earth as He represents us in Heaven. His care for His vessels is unmatched as He intends on finishing the good work that He began in you (Phil 1:6).

Closing Statement

In closing, we are to draw near to Him who never leaves. I used to pray like I was an Old Covenant priest, making my way to God who was in a mysterious external holy place. Now I recognize more and more that He never leaves. I also recognize when I start to become less aware of His presence (I don’t like that). But I also recognize I do not have to live that way anymore! I can draw near, not just in my “prayer closet” but in my car, in the bathroom, in my dreams, in my good, bad, and ugly moments. I hope this encourages you to abide in that which you have. This drawing near is to provide us with a continual renewing of hope and trust in our amazing Father God.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23)

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Heaven Coming to Earth Part 3: Love Not the World

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

I want to continue my series on the kingdom of Heaven. Many Christians have been spoon fed a view of the kingdom that relegates it to either the after-life or the second coming of Christ. Thus, they fail to lay hold of the power of the kingdom that is present and rising  in our midst.

Under this type of mindset, it is easy to misinterpret the Scriptures that speak about not loving this world. We might think God is saying we should despise Earth while we yearn to escape to Heaven one day. Or, we might think life on Earth is about “holding down the fort” until Jesus comes to rescue us instead of working towards a bright future as we partner with the King.

But we cannot dismiss the passages like the one in the beginning of this post. The key is to understand that we are told throughout the NT not to conform to this “age”, not that we should shun the Earth itself. This is what is meant by “world” in this passage. It is a value system based on lust. Lust is not just unhealthy sexual stuff but a self-centered, godless worldview promoted by the fallen king of selfishness himself.

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

This world system, as we are told, will pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever. But we are also told that “the Earth will remain forever” (see Ecc. 1:4). What this all boils down to is that the Kingdom of God is taking over this present godless world system. I believe this is what “the one who does the will of God” refers to. Jesus told His disciples to pray:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done; in Earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10)

So God’s will is that His kingdom come to Earth until it looks exactly like Heaven down here. Those who do the will of God are those who participate with the King in establishing the kingdom. I am not saying that your salvation hinges on some immeasurable contribution to the kingdom of God, but that only Kingdom work will last forever.

The rest will pass away or “burn up” as the Bible says in other passages like this one:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).

“Wait John”, you might say, “how is the Earth to remain forever if it is to be burned up?” This, according to many theologians, is a cleansing fire that will eliminate corruption from the Earth rather than an annihilation of the Earth itself. This seems to go along with the idea of the “age” passing away with its lust, but the will of God (kingdom work) lasting forever.

Paul gives further clarity into how this affects people at a personal level. He tells us:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:11-15).

The “work” is what will go through the fire test. The works of the kingdom of darkness will be burned up. However, we are assured that it is Christ alone who saves, not the amount of Kingdom work we crank out itself. But how could we yearn for anything else as a new creation in Christ?

In fact, we are told that we believers have already escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust. We can now manifest a new divine nature as we abide in Christ. Peter said;

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Pet. 1:4)

I hope this is all starting to make more sense by now. We are pilgrims, aliens, and sojourners in this age because we know there is coming a time where only the nature of our King will prevail. Until then, we are looking forward to the heavenly city whose builder is God as mentioned in Hebrews 11 and 13. However, we are kingdom builders and have a key role in the kingdom coming to Earth in the present age.

As Jesus prayed for us on His last night on Earth:

I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (Jn 17:14-15).

We are not to yearn for escape, but for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Going to heaven is not your mission; going into hell to destroy it is. Its gates will not prevail against the advancing church. Our hatred towards the world system must be rooted in our love for the souls it is destroying.

This is the Kingdom message. This is your mission. Seek it first.

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)

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Heaven Coming to Earth Part 2: Kingdom Significance

In the last post, I introduced the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus preached “the kingdom”, He was not usually talking about the after-life. The Kingdom of God does not specifically refer to the actual location of Heaven, which Scripture refers to as “the third Heaven” (1 Cor. 12). It refers to the realm where God’s rule is established. This is why we are told to pray that His kingdom will come in Earth as it is in Heaven.

In the end, Heaven and Earth will actually become one again. I say again based on what we see in the book of Genesis.

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth (Gen. 1:1).

For most of my life, I thought that in the beginning God created Heaven. Then about a trillion years later (give or take), He created Earth. This is not what we see in the first verse of the Bible. It seems to imply that they were created at the same time.

We also see that sin caused a disharmony in the Heaven/Earth connection. Jesus came to restore the connection; to bring the kingdom of Heaven down to Earth. We read in 2 Cor. 5:19, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (the word for world is “cosmos” in Greek).

We see in Rom. 8:23 that we born again believers have “the firstfruits of the Spirit (a foretaste of the blissful things to come)”. The oneness that will eventually be completed between Heaven and Earth is first seen in those who have been united with Christ through his death and resurrection.

All that being said, our life here on Earth is important. I think we should move away from a survival mentality that says our only mission here is to get people to Heaven (the after-life) and suffer it out till we get there ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it is about God and people rather than material things, but we need to keep in mind that, as the Scripture says, “the Earth will remain forever”. We are to be experiencing and ushering in “the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 4:6). I guess that makes us “new agers”.

We should not think that the only valid work for the kingdom involves being a missionary in the jungles or being a professional minister of some sort. We must not fail to see the importance of seemingly “temporary” work. For years (really, years) I was trapped by a lie that what I did in my “secular job” was insignificant. I did not invest effort in developing in the atmosphere where God had placed me as I waited for Him to bring me “into my calling”. Although I was often complimented as a hard worker, I thought God was only really interested in my “spiritual ” work. I failed to see that as a believer, everything takes on a kingdom aspect. There is a kingdom plan in the outer wheel of eternity that encompasses the inner wheel of this present temporary age.

A good friend of mine had a similar scenario. He was working at a restaurant and was growing in his role there. But he thought he would need to quit his job and live in a 24×7 prayer room for his calling to be fulfilled. God dealt with him about this by explaining how being a priest (one who prays and worships and accesses Heaven) was only half of his identity in Christ. He was also called to be a king (one who rules over the Earth). Shortly after that, he went for a management position at work and got it!

I will say that I am big into prayer, worship and missions, but I see that there is a deception that enters the church when we think that God is only pleased with us when we are locked away in a closet praying for His return or for Him to send revival to the dark world or participating in overt ministry work.

No matter what we do outwardly, fulfilling our calling must always center around:

1) Christ being formed in us

2) Displaying the fruit of the Holy Spirit

If we have these two things developing in our lives, what we do will be filled with the nature and power of Christ in us.

But if you attend some of the “revival” meetings these days, you may think that God is only pleased with outwardly radical displays of discipleship. You might feel guilty that you are not being martyred in the Middle East or shouting the gospel at the top of your lungs on the street corner. That is great if that is where God has you in your walk with Him. However, if you read through the New Testament, the instructions to the church are filled with instructions centered around to loving one another and  living simple lives. Paul told the Thessalonians:

 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.  Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others (1 Thess. 4:11-12).

Living a quiet life of faith, love, and rest is a great example of kingdom living. We are to enjoy and steward this life as a gift from our Father. As Jesus said, we should not look for outward signs of the kingdom but discover the kingdom within (see Luke 17:20-21).

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God (Ecc 5:18-19).

In my next post, I plan on reconciling the concept of the kingdom of God coming to Earth and the significance of life in this world with the true biblical concept of “not loving this world”.

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Heaven Coming to Us

In 2003, my world was rocked by this thought that would not go away:

The church has preached going to Heaven, but Jesus preached Heaven coming to Earth.

Somehow, this fundamental, basic truth eludes us. We are so focused on where we and others will end up in eternity that we miss the point that Mr. Eternity wants to set up His Kingdom here.

When Jesus walked the Earth, His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matt 4:17).” It was not, “Repent so that you end up in Heaven when you die.”

In His model prayer that He gave to the disciples, He said, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, in Earth as it is in Heaven.” This is not a weird new doctrine, but fundamental Christian faith. His kingdom will reign over all the Earth. We are the kings that will reign with Him.

Did Jesus Preach a Different Gospel than the Apostles?

Here is where some confusion lies. It might seem like Jesus preached the kingdom of God and the apostles preached grace (justification by faith). However, if you read through the New Testament epistles, you will see that the writers were coming from a kingdom perspective. Though they spent much time expounding on what it means to be a born again believer and what Jesus accomplished for us, they kept with the overall picture that God’s kingdom was being established in the Earth. The book of Acts ends with:

And he (Paul) stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:30 – 31).

I love the gospel of grace (if you haven’t noticed by now) but I recognize that it is a message on how God redeems individuals whereas the kingdom message pertains to the entire Earth.

For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are… the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time …And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory (Romans 8:19-23) 

The meek shall inherit the Earth. We should not view this life as a dirty pit stop on the way to our true destination. To be Biblically accurate, Earth is our final destination. We are pilgrims and sojourners “in this age” of darkness. But the true light is shining and will get brighter until the whole Earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. I am tired of hearing about how we just need to suffer it out until the Lord sucks us up in the rapture or when He comes back to kill the bad guys and rescue poor little me. I am tired of hearing that from one person in particular… me! But thank God that He is helping His church enter into a Kingdom mentality rather than a survival mentality.

Bill Johnson says that sometimes we take the blessed hope and turn it into
the “blessed escape”. As believers, we should be developing an overcoming
mentality, rather than an escaping mentality.

I used to work with a brother who would always herald, “Jesus is coming back soon!” around the workplace. I loved the guy; he was a great brother. But I see how his
church had focused on the rapture and escape. One day he said to me,
“John, the Lord is coming back soon.” That was quite normal. But this
time, he appended his catch phrase with, “…and I hope He does so He’ll get me outta here!”

I believe that God wants to teach us to value life on Earth as well as the simple things that we do in work and play. We should not think that divorcing ourselves from natural things and embracing an esoteric life of spiritual experiences is the true way to be “spiritual”. If the kingdom of God is coming to Earth, then we are the ones that are setting the foundation for the King by introducing people to Him and bringing His influence into our day to day activities. I will expand more on that in my next post.

 

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