anointing, authority, called, decision, faith, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, love, repentance

Jesus Begins His Public Ministry, Entry #4

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:15

Time. We are all on a definite schedule and affected by its relentless pace. Jesus now declares that His moment has finally come. It seems that the Creator of time is subject to the pace at which it unfolds. He is precisely on schedule for the ultimate event of all of history. It all begins at this moment.

Jesus now officially recognizes the start of “the Kingdom of God.” The Jewish people have sought this moment, they have looked for it and waited. But now they must respond to His message of repentance and faith. They have to make the decision, they must settle themselves into God’s purpose for their lives. There is no other way.

Our response to that good news is repentance and faith.

Both are absolutely critical to really becoming a Christian believer. Both situate us to the certain place where we can receive from God. We can’t just ‘admire’ His person and message. Far too many people make this mistake. Instead we must vigorously respond to all that He says; we absolutely need to make a decision. We have to change.

There is no other way.

“A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit’s aid than he can create a world.”

-Charles Spurgeon

  

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Let’s Consider What Jesus Said

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

John 21:25

Jesus explained the kingdom of God to people who were just like us. He spoke simply and directly, not at all like the Pharisees. He never made it complicated, or mysterious, instead he “simplified” things. He took theology and clarified it. His simple teaching was such that little children understood.

Many publishers print Bibles with everything Jesus said in red.

It’s that conviction that this website has been created–it’s the red ink that teaches God’s Kingdom to us clearly and perfectly. Jesus is talking about the nature of the reign of God. It’s good for us to consider, and put these teachings into practice

Good theology asserts that Jesus Christ is the “God-man.” The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the supreme Creator, and the one who holds all things together (Col. 1:15-17). Christians believe he is the second member of the Trinity. When he was born he still was God–but now with flesh!

I assert that this means that He deserves to be actively listened to, obviously, and carefully. What Jesus said must be considered in the light of who He is–if he’s really who we believe he is, his words are authoritative, and critical. After all, he is the one who guides the stars and planets and holds atoms together.

But it’s not that all the “black” verses are in any way deficient.

They’re not outdated or easily deficent, rather each of them finds a connection to a red-letter principle. The Old Testament promises look forward to a New Testament fulfillment. It’s been said by commentators that the OT is the NT concealed, and the NT is the OT revealed.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is a case in point.

There is simply nothing like this particular teaching in any work of man. (Shakespeare’s words aren’t even a blip on the radar.) Believers are those people who believe that Jesus Christ’s words are completely authoritative.

Moses climbed Sinai to obtain the Law from the Almighty, the Lord Jesus sat in the grass on a mountainside to teach. (Matthew 5:1-2). He opens his mouth and teaches his disciples the Beatitudes–those amazing verses that are the very foundation of God’s active rule in our lives.

He declares salvation and God’s profound love for us. He keeps sharing it over and over. He wants us to understand the Father, to be obedient to the truth, and live the Kingdom. What Jesus says will often shake us up, but they’re God’s clear will for us.

It’s imperative we take a closer look.

Your brother in Jesus,

Bryan

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My Kingdom, #98

 “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36

Jesus perfectly understood his kingdom. Three times in this one verse, Jesus uses the statement, “My kingdom.” Three times. Perhaps there is something here we should look at closer? Maybe?

First, Jesus tells Pilate that, yes, he was a king. Second, that this kingdom was not a political rival kingdom. Its boundaries were not physical ones–they’re spiritual, and Pilate and the emperor were not in the equation. King Jesus’ kingdom was not “of this world,” which also by the way, is repeated three times in this single verse.

These 40 words declare to Pilate that he shouldn’t be worried.

Those who look to King Jesus have renounced the tenets of this world’s ideas–force, pride, public image and power. The kingdom of God comes to us in the Red Letters of Jesus–the Beatitudes and the parables.

“Romans thought they knew about kingdoms and their might; that armies, navies, swords, and battles measured the strength of kingdoms. What Jesus knew was that His kingdom – though not of this world – was mightier than Rome and would continue to expand and influence when Rome passed away.”

David Guzik

Brokenness, humility, love, servanthood and sacrifice are the ways his kingdom comes to people. The world’s methods of doing things–even religious and “moral” approaches, are never the way things work under his authority. At times even, they may seem very noble and right; but that isn’t the way Jesus’ rule truly comes.

Interesting. I believe the church, especially here in the West, understands Jesus as a Savior, but not as the King. The idea of a king and lord aren’t automatics for us. We have senators and constitutions, media outlets and freedom of speech–but that somehow never prepares us for the rule of a true sovereign.

Jesus is calling us to live out his rule in our lives, and to embrace him as King. He’s much more than our Savior, and we must understand that. If we want to really grow in him, we must understand his lordship.

The lordship of Jesus is not simply a hope of Christians that someday might be realized; it is a truth that has already taken place.

R.C. Sproul

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What About the Children? #82

 “People were bringing infants to him so that he might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. Jesus, however, invited them: 

“Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Luke 18:15-17

There is conflict here–and we can’t ignore it. The disciples seem to see themselves as the unofficial “protecters” of Jesus. I suppose that the sheer immensity of the crowds, and Jesus’ popularity, forced them to act as go-betweens. They believed that they needed to protect Jesus by only letting certain people, with certain needs, get close to him. I believe that their motives were good and proper.

Jesus’ disciples were getting headaches. His ministry was wildly successful by this time–wherever he went massive crowds followed, if not for the teaching and healings, but at least for the spectacle. In a dull and dreary life, the Lord Jesus was their entertainment (this was before MTV and video games).

Celebs often need protection. The president of the United States has the Secret Service–they surround him, and form a barrier. Perhaps this is what the 12 saw as their duty and calling. Only certain people, those who were properly vetted, could get close enough to really meet him.

The disciples had a plan–but it meant restricting access to him. They would set up their perimeter, and only let certain people access Jesus. In theory it was wisdom, but in practice it was really difficult. But disciples would find a way–and, of course, parents would find ways to get around them.

But I’m digressing here.

The real issue here is how we enter his kingdom. Jesus was crystal clear. Only “children” get in. The simple and the unsophisticated are the only ones who are given kingdom passports. They’re the ONLY ones who can enter in–that means the proud theologian, the all together socialite, and the mature elder will only get “citizenship” if they become children again.

“The gospel is so simple that small children can understand it, and it is so profound that studies by the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches.”

Charles Hodge

But what does this really mean? It seems to me that it most definitely ties into Nicodemus’ late night talk with Jesus, John 3, and being “born again.” In chapter 3, Jesus sits down with a sophistically religious man, and rocks his sophisticated world–

“Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3 (context, vv. 1-13)

We must stay simple, (K.I.S.S.) It’s the enemy who tries to pull us away from that, and into a knotty complexity, and a fairly elaborate theological correctness. But this dear reader, isn’t the way of Jesus, nor is it the way of true maturity. We can understand Nicodemus’ confusion all too well, when we try to enter God’s kingdom without the humbleness of a child.

“Not only did Jesus welcome these little human beings as members of the kingdom of God; He also extolled them as model citizens of the same, because of their capacity to trust and love.”

-Some unknown guy

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Gonzo Faith, Entry #38

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 

Mark 4:40 (context vv. 35-41)

Often fear rules the human heart. Quite suddenly the waves seem too high, and the wind starts to really howl. We look at our circumstances and we freak out by what we see. Things look grim, and often we imagine the worse is going to happen. Fear has its sharp hooks in us; and everything is starting to get really crazy.

Jesus often zaps us at times like this. When our boat is pitching violently in open seas, we’ve lost our anchor and the sails are useless, it’s then we start looking around to find where we put our life-jackets. We choose this approach rather than calling out to Him.

It seems that becomes our last option–to beg Him to come and save us. (We can get so stiff-necked sometimes. I think it really is a pride/humility issue.)

Faith is probably the most significant part of this verse. It’s faith in Him that screams out of our storm. When faith shows up, fear leaves. We get one or another. I suppose it’s always going to come to this–will it be fear or faith? We must grasp this lesson, hopefully sooner rather than later. The storm is how the Kingdom of God gets worked into the human heart.

“Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”

-Andrew Murray

“Have you no faith?” That’s Jesus’ interesting question to His believers who are about die. Crazy! But know this, these tempests will never be random or capricious. His love has absolute control over each of them. All He wants is that His disciples will see a truly powerful love, that really does save.

Calling on Him must become our first reaction, and not the fifteenth.

We’ll learn to do this first eventually, even if it means repeating the lesson over and over and over, until faith becomes our first response. Jesus often uses a bad storm to put the Kingdom even deeper inside of people. “Have you no faith” isn’t so much as an indictment of you, as it’s a deep and concerned observation. And only the storm can reveal your faith.

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Preaching With a Purpose, Entry #17

“But he said to them, 

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Luke 4:43 (context, vv. 42-44)

God directed preaching extends the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus understands this and embraces a calling from the Father to communicate God’s rule in the heart and souls of people. He publicly acknowledges that this was now His ministry and purpose. This was the reason He came for us. He was sent!

Jesus understands that when the Gospel is combined with the Father’s intentional purpose it develops into a true understanding of what He is looking for in our lives. Perhaps it’s the only thing that can. He obeys and the world is completely changed.

Anointed preaching accomplishes Kingdom purposes.

Understanding the Kingdom takes humility and repentance. The message of Jesus is not a ‘given,’ It requires a solid reaction that will take the listener deeper than he has ever gone before. The gospel message must be understood through a ‘broken’ life. It has zero impact when the heart is hard. We are teflon.

Preaching this “good news” is the only thing that can pierce the hard shell of the human heart. I believe that His purpose requires a commitment on the preacher as well as the listener. It demands obedience. It requires a repentant faith.

Jesus seems to agree.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

― Francis of Assisi

 

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Nicodemus Finally Understands, Entry #12

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3 (context vv. 3-15).

He came at night. The questions are burning inside deep inside him and he desperately wants to understand. Nicodemus is a “ruler of the Jews,” (V. 1) and yet it’s not enough. He is unsure and must speak to Jesus, alone and I suppose, “off the record.” Yet he is the rare someone who feels ‘compelled’ to seek God, and will look just about anywhere for an answer.

Nicodemus is a pharisee, “a pure one,” and a teacher of the Jewish people, and yet he is bereft of real answers. He is looking for the missing piece, or maybe something much more then that, but he has to know that it is real and true. There are too many fakes out there after all. He has to know, so he goes to Jesus. Nicodemus needs to understand.

A little baby in a crib, brought to life by a mother’s painful love. It is to this kind of birth that our Lord points to as the very beginning of spiritual life. The real answer to Nicodemus’ questions do not involve ‘rehabilitation’ but rather transformation. Eternal life will not come by personal effort or by ‘working’ for it.

It’ll take nothing less than a new birth to change a person.

Yet somehow Nicodemus is confused by this. He’s trying very hard to “connect the dots” but his mind can’t comprehend the truths Jesus is saying. (A new birth? You’ve got to be kidding.) But Jesus isn’t joking and He isn’t purposefully making it hard for Nicodemus.

New births aren’t possible unless God intervenes. Being freshly birthed is a far cry from being rehabilitated. One is definitely God’s gift of salvation, and the other comes by human sweat and effort. We must understand that we can do nothing that will make us acceptable to God, we can only accept the new birth that He offers us.

It comes not through our effort, but by a repentant faith. We must become spiritually resurrected by believing in His Word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to give us real life. We start completely over it seems, radically receiving a spiritual life. Righteousness doesn’t come through sweaty, ‘grit your teeth’ determination, but by faith alone.

“If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

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