Tag Archives: human attempts

Jesus’ Return–When, What Do You Expect?

Did you know this? Jesus prophesied to his disciples many awesome, enormous, life-changing events would take place within the lifetime of his Jewish contemporaries: Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mat 24:34) ‘All these things’ included:
the once ever, terrible great tribulation
the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, judgment on the very heart of Judaism
the awesome appearing of the sign of the Son of Man (Jesus) in the sky
the mourning and distress of the tribes (i.e., the Jews) of the land (i.e., Judea)
the unimaginable sight of the Messiah coming on the clouds with power and great glory. (24:30)

What then did those apostles expect from those words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives that day?

The letters of the NT bear consistent statements showing that they believed Jesus’ return was close, coming within the lifetime of many, just as he promised. Dozens of statements by these authors demand a change in our thinking. Here are just a few: Acts 2:14-20; 1 Cor 10:11; Heb 1:2, 9:26, 1 Pet 1:20. All these texts limit them to the first century. Peter wrote “the end of all things was at hand” for him and his readers (1 Pet 4:7). John insisted that it was the “last hour” (1 John 2:18).

I have some questions to ask you if you are still waiting for Jesus’ return.

First. If his coming was close for them, how can it be close for you, 2000 years later on? That’s nonsense!

Second. Were Jesus and the writers of the New Testament mistaken? Yes? No?

Third. Just what are you expecting to experience at the return of Jesus? The end of the world, history, time?

    Look. That is a man-made idea. The ‘end’ or ‘last days’ in the NT refers to the end of an era, an age, not the end of time or the end of the world! This is a terrible stumbling block to people reading and understanding the meaning of Jesus’ words. The original text is not confusing or unclear about the meaning of ‘end’. The Jews thought in terms of ‘this age’ and the ‘age to come’ (e,g., Mat 12:32).

    Fourth. Just what do you expect to see at the return of Jesus? A physical Jesus coming on the clouds?

      The NT teaches that He forever sits at the right hand of power, masked by dark clouds of glory and “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16). Seeing him, John fell ‘like a dead man’ (Rev 1:17). Many assume he would be seen by human eyes and so then imagine he has not yet come. Deception! That’s another man-made idea. Now, we hear this absurd idea that at the end of the age, the earth /universe will undergo a radical renovation and the righteous of the ages, physically resurrected from the dead, will live on this “restored” earth. Is that what you believe? Where is the Biblical evidence?

      History tells us what was actually seen by people in the first century, AD66:

      A star resembling a sword; a comet for a whole year; At the feast of unleavened bread, during the night, a bright light shone round the altar and the temple, so that it seemed to be bright day, for half an hour; a few days after that feast “Before sunset chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.” Josephus, Jewish Wars, b.6, 9, 3.

      The Roman historian Tacitus reported “There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure.”

      Now, I hear from people who just long to leave this planet, and to be free of bodies that are sick and broken. The mainstream news depresses people and news of loss, tragedy and WW3 threats can be overwhelming. Many are discouraged by the delayed Rapture. It’s 50 years since ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ was published. Keeping the faith becomes more challenging for them each day. They cry ‘will Jesus EVER rescue us from this dreadful world gone haywire?”

      That’s why many believers have a negative mindset. That doesn’t help anyone. That’s why so many are so darkened in the mind focusing on the bad all the time, mocking those that see Jesus ruling for ever. All they do is proclaim the inevitable victory of evil. There is a dark veil over their mind. Their focus is on the evil in this world, and not on the glorious gospel and Kingdom of God which triumphs and is eternal.

      Do you reject scripture if it goes against your denomination? or have you been programmed to see things by “group think” within your evangelical tradition? Cognisant dissonance? Are you reading the NT as if it were spoken TO you and not the original readers in context? No. We must understand how the original audience would have understood the texts. But the purveyors of error insist that it was written to us, arguing that prophecies and events from the 1st century are to be fast-forwarded to our day! That’s nonsense, right?

      We need to change our thinking from bad teachings and this deadly escape theology, these ‘get me outta here’ attitudes. Doom and gloom. This may be difficult for many, I get it. Everyone needs to realise that we have been lied to—the greatest deception being about Jesus’ return. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). That’s where He is right now and that’s where our victory lies! (Rev 1:5) Let’s start living joyously in the Kingdom of God!

      Is One Greater Than Another?

       by Deborah Waldron Fry

      I have heard this saying before, that because someone has a “special” Anointing on their life, the enemy attacks them or their children more than others.

      Another saying is, “Higher levels, different devils!”

      I think many of you have heard this too and wondered about it.  This has always bothered me, because what parent would ever cause their children to have a target on their back, because of what they are called to do, whether it be apostle, or prophet, or evangelist, or pastor or teacher?

      So I brought it to Father in prayer, asking, “Show me, Father, if this is true, I really need to know and others want to know.  And Father, in Jesus name, show us how to combat those attacks if true.”

      And I heard the Sweet Loving Voice of the Father ask, “Is one of My Child’s Anointing, greater than another?”

      “Well, LORD, we who are born again all have the same Holy Spirit in us, so I don’t think so.  We are ALL anointed.”

      “Yes, My Child, when you are in Christ you are a “Christian” — which means “Little anointed one.”

      It means you are LIKE CHRIST.  No one in My Kingdom has a “special” anointing, you are ALL ANOINTED by the Precious Holy Spirit. T here is no anointing greater or higher.

      Is one gift or calling greater than another?  There is a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit, none is better than another, for ALL are needed.  There is a variety of service and activities but it is the same Lord who empowers all

      A Body is made up of many members.  Each one needed and important.  I arrange the members in the Body, each one of them, as I choose.

      If all were a single member, where would the body be?  It could not function.  As it is, there are many parts, yet one Glorious Body with Christ as the Head.

      You are ALL My Body and you are ALL important, Beloved.  I have anointed you with The Holy Spirit and FIRE!

      You all have a calling to be My Light in the darkness.  This LIGHT is what the enemy sees in you!

      Not your gifts or your talents or callings, or a “special anointing”, but he sees MY SPIRIT in you.  He sees ME in you.

      THE SPECIAL ANOINTING, Who is the Third Person of the Godhead, resides in all who are born again and filled with the Spirit!

      Do you see now, My Child?  Do you see how special you are to Me?  You are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made! 

      If one is attacked, you are all attacked for you are one Body and ALL come together to fight for the Victory!

      The devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  It matters not to him what your calling is, or what body part you are but only that you are Mine.

      He sees My Mark on you.  He sees My Fire burning in your heart and he wants to quench it if he can.

      But do not fear.  I have you covered.  You are hidden in Christ.  I have armed you with My Word.

      The weapons of your warfare are MIGHTY through your God!  This is a New Covenant we have, Beloved.

      You are not like Job who lost everything he had.  Job did not have the Spirit dwelling in Him.  Job was not hidden in Christ.  You are a NEW CREATION with every spiritual blessing!

      You are covered in My Glory!  Do not let fear enter your mind and heart.  I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

      I do not give the devil free reign in your life.  I AM a good, good Father.  Though bad things happen in this world and afflictions and tribulations abound, I have promised to deliver you from them all.

      I have no favorites for you are ALL in Christ Jesus!  I have called you and chosen you and anointed you.

      Therefore, if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it.

      For thus says the LORD Who created you and He that formed you, “Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you.”

      I will bring your children from the east and gather them from the west.  I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My Sons from far, and My Daughters from the ends of the earth; even EVERY ONE that is called by My Name — for I have created you ALL for My Glory, I have formed you; yea, I have made you and I will keep you!”

      The Sheep and the Goats: Matthew 25:31-46

      INTRODUCTION

      The content of Matthew 25 maintains the strong theme already introduced at Matthew 24:36: the disciples must be alert and occupied in the work Jesus had set before them. This theme continues into chapter 25 ending at Matthew 26:1.

      First, please consider some very important things here in the sheep and goats parable:

      -In context, Jesus is speaking to his disciples continuing his discourse he began as recorded in Mat 24.

      -This passage is also part of the encouragement Jesus gave to the disciples to not give up.

      -Like the two previous parables in Mat 25, this text must be interpreted as a parable not literally.

      – Like the two previous parables we have two groups of people, one blessed and the other condemned.

      -These people gathered before Him, it is clear, have claimed to follow Jesus, both ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’. They had been in the ‘sheepfold’ of the ekklesia, and when the chief shepherd would appear, who knows his own sheep and calls them by name (John 10:27), he will easily separate the one from the other.

      -All people who ever have been or shall be whole world will be judged—“we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”. But what is described here in this parable, only concerns the judgment of those who had made some profession of faith, those who had opportunity to receive Jesus. That’s important.

      Next, a fundamental and important question is: who are ‘these brothers of mine’?

      Consistently throughout the Gospel of Matthew, these are those who do His Father’s will (e.g., Mat 12:49-50). It refers to those who carry the good news of the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ disciples, His representatives, from the greatest to the least. So, in sending the disciples (Mat 10:1-42), He told them not to take provisions with them but to rely on the hospitality of those who would receive them in His name. He ends declaring, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Not just the ‘least’, but ‘anyone’!

      Jesus spoke these words on the Mt of Olives to encourage the disciples, reminding them of the sufferings and persecutions they would endure (Mat 10, 24:9-13). Many would come to their aid when they are imprisoned, thirsty, homeless, naked, etc. Acts and the apostles’ letters record many instances of this.

      See also Hebrews 2:11,17 “He is not ashamed to call His own, ‘His brothers”. Note also Acts 9:4-5 where Jesus identified with the persecuted believers saying to Saul “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

      Of course, Jesus’ people must render help to anyone in need. Paul put it well “So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” But it is an error of interpretation to teach that Jesus in this parable meant the poor and disadvantaged.

      Many scholars say this as a reference to “the last judgment” at the end of history. Does scripture ever say this? Or does the Bible even call it “The Last judgment”? Not really. This judgment parable is contextually set at the return of Jesus. It follows as a third parable in Matthew 25 and these three follow the parable in Mat 24:45-51. Thus there are four similar parables in the Olivet Discourse.

      As you know, the original Greek has no chapters and the text must be read without any break. Thus it is certainly part of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus answers to the disciples’ questions (Mat 24:3).

      Like other parables of Jesus, and indeed the whole of the Olivet Discourse , this passage is set in the context of Israel and addressed to Jews. So the scene is entirely Jewish and not worldwide.

      THE TEXT

      V31. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

      -when the Son of Man comes:  Clearly, this is the same coming as we have already seen in Mat 24:30 with the motifs of glory and angels. Also see Mat 16:27-28. The NT only speaks of one coming of the Son of Man, never ‘a second coming’. In Hebrews 9:28 we read ‘will appear a second time”. This phrase is a strong allusion to Daniel 7:13-14.

      -sit on his throne: that is in judgment—which will occur when Jesus has ascended and sits at God’s right hand. The book of Revelation pictures Him seated in judgment. And Jesus told the high priest “. . But I tell you from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat 26:64).  Again, note the Daniel 7:13-14 text relevance.

      V32-33.  And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.

      -all:  here doesn’t necessarily mean ‘every single one’, like many other texts using Greek word ‘pas’ e.g., Mat 2:3 “When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

      -nations (Grk ethne) is better translated ‘peoples’–so translated in Acts 8:9. Strong’s definitions include: a race, a tribe. ‘Peoples’ or ‘tribes’ makes more sense. Today’s usage of ‘nations’ just doesn’t fit. Sometimes ‘nations’ can be kinship groups—such as Judea, Samaria and Galilee as ‘nations’ of Israel. The scene, the context, is Jewish.

      -separate them: sheep and goats typicallygrazed together but were separated at night because sheep needed different sleep conditions compared with goats. This is a very striking and suggestive comparison, as there will be two groups and two eternal destinations.

      V34-36.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

      -then: the strikingly repetitive use of the word ‘then’ suggests a narrator telling a story.

      – the King will . . . on His right: clearly, those gathered ‘sheep’ were addressed as having died. They are the elect of God, true believers, having the grace of God truly within them. They are Christ’s sheep for whom he, the good shepherd, had laid down his life.

      -for I was hungry . . . to me: remarkable—these ‘sheep’ actually ministered to Jesus personally

      V37-39.  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see you as a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you? And when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

      – the righteous: they are now called ‘the righteous’

      -when did we see you . . they are surprised and ask when did they ever respond so charitably? The righteous who know the Lord do not keep track of their good seeds. Love does not keep account. Such people know of no good works to claim to their credit.

      they are portrayed as having died, yet are able to think, recall memory, be surprised and speak, asking the King “when did we . . . ?” Were they raised from death? Remember this is a parable.

      V40. And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

      -the King will answer: the King explains how they are the blessed ones. The King answers their question explaining His identification with even the least of his siblings!

      -to the extent: each loving occasion has been recorded! There are so many times they did, yet they can’t recall—helping Jesus’ disciples had become their lifestyle.

      -least of these brothers of mine: Who are these? Consistently throughout the Gospel of Matthew, His brothers are those who do His Father’s will (e.g., Mat 12:49-50). It refers to those who carry the good news of the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ disciples, His representatives. For example, in sending the disciples (Mat 10:1-42), He told them not to take provisions with them but to rely on the hospitality of those who would receive them in His name. He ends declaring, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. (Mat 10:42)” Not just the ‘least’ but ‘anyone’!

      See also Hebrews ch 2—“He is not ashamed to call His own, ‘His brothers” (Heb 2:11,17).

      And also Acts 9:4-5 where Jesus identified with the persecuted believers “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Of course, Jesus’ taught many times that his people must render help to anyone in need. But it is an error of interpretation to teach that Jesus here meant the poor and disadvantaged.

      -encouragement for the disciples: Jesus spoke these words on the Mt of Olives that day, to encourage the disciples, reminding them of the sufferings and persecutions they would endure (Mat 10, 24:9-13). In days to come, many would come to their aid when they are imprisoned, thirsty, homeless, naked, etc. Acts and the apostles’ letters record numerous instances of this.

      V41-43.  “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you accursed people, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

      -you accursed people: they are aligned with the devil and his angels and destined for eternal fire, the worst of all outcomes, because they failed to acknowledge Jesus in his followers. Chilling.

      V44-46.  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or as a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

      -Lord, when? They also are stunned—why they are the accursed? What wrong did we do?

      -the King will answer: The King answers: because they did not support his agents, even the least of them! See Matthew 10:40-42 where Jesus commissioned the twelve and expected them to be supported by others in several ways—even with giving them a cup of cold water.

      -to the extent: it was their lifestyle to despise his servants instead of receiving them (Mat 10:40-42) 

      -the least of these: Who are the ‘least’? As we have seen, they are those who do his Father’s will who are called His brothers and sisters (Mat 12:49-50).

      -eternal punishment . .  into eternal life: There are only two destinies. The same Greek word is used—eternal punishment or eternal life. If there is eternal life, there must be eternal punishment.

      “Their excuses will not be regarded, their pleas will be of no avail, their pretensions to interest in Christ, and love to him, will be set aside; the sentence will remain irrevocable, and there will be no appeal from it, for there is no higher tribunal to bring the cause before.” (John Gill, Commentary on Matthew)

      -compare Jesus’ words, Mat 7:22-23: Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.’

      CONCLUSION

      Teresa of Calcutta said

      “Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you have anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”

      There are many lessons for us today in this passage, even if we are not the ones addressed directly. I will leave this up to you dear reader and ask the Lord to speak to you and direct your paths, your heart.

      More on the De Facto Question

      In the previous post (was short—not the whole counsel of God) several people responded by email as well as here on the blog. How differently sincere and godly respondents can look at a post!

      Some were very positive. Some did not actually read the article carefully. Some read with the aim to dismiss what is written or to critique and they miss what is actually being said. Others were disappointed that no conclusion was clear— whether “it” is right or wrong. Bless ‘em all!

      We like to have difficult questions settled cleanly and simply. Then we can be quick to judge people and make decisions affecting people’s lives, tell others how to behave. But we end up excluding some behaviours and winking at others. Instead of showing patience and compassion, we exclude people.

      We were addressing the situation of an already established, committed and caring ‘marriage’, one that has been recognised by the state and in law for many decades and by perhaps 75% of Australian society.

      Should we not follow Jesus in the way he acted? He did nothing except what the Father told him. So must we cultivate that in our own lives rather than live just by precepts, dogma. It is important that we begin to move in the Holy Spirit in how we respond to people.  This will become critical in this culture of increasing ‘new morality’, political correctness and intolerant, mischievous opposition to anything Christian in politics, society and media.

      There are some things that we can be clear about and these were pointed out in my post, things we hold true as Jesus did. I suppose I could have added how fornicators will come under the judgment of God. But that’s not the sort of issue that was being addressed.  Certainly young people need to be warned that cohabitation is not the answer to their search for true oneness, wholeness or identity.

      There is a need to be holy, to please the Lord. But how is that achieved? It is the gift of God, lest any of us should boast. Grace. A free gift, the Holy Spirit. Not law. That needs another short post or two, perhaps twenty!

      Holiness will not be achieved by observance of Law, any set of laws. Not by the rules and norms of average, lifeless, pew-bound Christianity, nor by rules we make up to protect our group, large or small or to give some false security or human authority. Imposition, judgmentalism and dogmatism.

      For those of us who have escaped from the box (buildings, priestcraft, professional staff, staged-managed meetings, finances, etc) we are thrown back on the Holy Spirit to lead us and show us how to love, to embrace the newbees and to bring prophetic understanding and the Father’s mind, His ways.

      In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4), He graciously exposed her history of 5 husbands and the current live-in guy. Yes, in that society there was a difference between marriage and cohabitation, which based on the evidence available, actually had very little in common with the scenario we were addressing.

      Jesus did not behave as the scribes and Pharisees—and many fundamentalist or ‘bible-believing’ leaders—would do with condemnation and judgment. That word of knowledge from God brought her salvation, an unexpected extended stay for Jesus and co in Sycar and amazing blessing. Jesus is the standard.

      Don’t you love how Paul talks about prophecy in action: if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;  the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Corinthians 14)

      We must expect such take place in our midst as we mix with unbelievers or ungifted ones. May that be our desire and experience as we deal with the many difficult situations which will arise and grow more frequent in coming days. The Holy Spirit is able to expose people’s hearts when they try to justify their actions, as they will. We all tend to.

      We are promised magnanimous gifts and graces. Why are we not experiencing them? Why present to people worldly principles, white-washed with a veneer of religiosity? Let us move in the blessings of the new covenant in grace and glory and not with some mental checklist of dos and donts.

      After decades of marriage, I believe it’s best for couples to express before witnesses a covenant relationship and be recognised by wider society even though I would struggle to produce texts to clearly support that.

      Jesus is everything. Listen to God speak! He is there and He is not silent

      A New Covenant—Neglected

      Appallingly, today, we see a denial of much of the glorious features of the New Covenant—New Testament life. Instead of God’s laws poured by the Holy Spirit into their minds and written on their hearts, many are content to get their spiritual input not from the Lord Himself, but from middlemen with agendas—spiritual directors, priests, pastors. Instead of being the people of God, many see their identity as Baptist or Catholic or Evangelical and so on. The two-tier (clergy-laity) mentality persists.

      Does not the Living God find fault with us in our unbiblical practices of assembly and hierarchy which we continue to hang onto?

      Instead of all God’s people being in unbroken fellowship with the living God—knowing Him in their personal experience—they are dependent on professional Christians as mediators. The whole concept given to us by S. Paul—that of the one body with many active functioning members, each with gifts of the Holy Spirit—is ignored, seen as irrelevant or even mysteriously withdrawn. Millions even attend rituals in which it is believed Jesus is re-sacrificed again and again by a priest, clearly at great odds with the message of the New Testament—this sacrifice was made once for all and all time and is unrepeatable.

      The key to much understanding of the New Covenant is that we are each born into a Body—the Body of Christ. Individualism is contrary to the New Covenant and to our organic, community life in the Body of Christ. We are many members and one body. God makes covenant with a people, not with individuals, but with the body of Christ, in Jesus.

      When the Lord talks about a new agreement (covenant), he means that the first one is out of date. And anything that is old and useless will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)

      All kinds of spirituality that are inadequate or out of date have now been made obsolete by God’s flawless design; and what is obsolete and outdated soon disappears. And now what is not planted by the Father will be rooted up (Matthew 15:13). What is built, even if on a good foundation, if not with God’s specified materials, will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

      This New Covenant is made with Christ and we get under the New Covenant by being hid in Christ together. So it can never be broken! You cannot break it—it was not made with you!

      So what are you going to do about this?

      You have the wonderful power of choice. To change your mind and heart and actions.

      Must we keep disobeying the Lord who gave Himself for us?

      A New Covenant—Ignored?

      God’s first agreement (covenant) with His people, Israel, was defective, wrote the author of the New Testament book The Letter to the Hebrews (8:7-8) so a better was needed. This author shows how much more serious is our attitude and response to the New Covenant (how shall we escape if we ignore its implications, Hebrews 2:1-4).

      The new must not be ignored. God’s design practices for corporate worship revealed in the New Covenant/New Testament must be followed. We must not lose His words or replace them by worldly or pagan ideas and practices like clergy—laity, pastor—people.

      In this better covenant Jesus is not prevented by death and we are ALL called into the experience of the Lord Jesus in the power of his endless, indestructible life in which he works in us who draw near. He promises to energise within us, in our own life, breathing his life in us, so that it becomes our new nature to love him, delight to do his will—his own life in us.

      Have believers gone backwards since Judaism with corporate matters?  In many ways our practices in churches as Christ’s people today are often more bound and institutional and domineering to that of many devout Jews in Jesus’ own day. Jews did not have a pastor or priest ruling over them. Nor did they meet in ‘house-of-the-Lord’ type buildings. Nor was the sharing of the word of God jealously guarded by one (or two) leaders.  The synagogue was a place of discussion and sharing of scriptures by the several.  Common meals were frequently shared together. Plus each synagogue was independently managed. They did not have to toe the line of any outside superintendent, C.E.O., denomination, statement of faith, or any head office!

      These churchy practices plainly ignore the New Covenant.

      How far we have drifted from the apostles’ teaching and practice! They were liberated from the practices of Judaism, yes, of religion and the Holy Spirit was living in each one! Yet today Christendom is weak, divided up into competing denominations, living “in the flesh” and generally not experiencing the New Covenant. It seems we have a similar situation today to that which our Hebrews author was addressing  (Heb 8:7-8) . . . .

       If the first covenant with God had been all right, there would not have been any need for another one. But the Lord found fault with them and said . . . . . .  (quoting Jer 31:31-34)

      I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
      I will be their God, and they will be my people.
      No longer will they teach or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
      because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
      For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

      Can we just go on and on ignoring the New Covenant made at the most tremendous cost to the Father by Jesus?

      “If you love me you will keep my commands”  John 14:15

      To be continued

      A SOUND AND FULL GOSPEL

      Sound doctrine must be encouraged right from the start for the newly baptised. That means the teaching of Jesus and the apostles recorded for us in the New Testament documents. An intensive approach is necessary until a foundation and unity in Christ is experienced to bring maturity and stops the person being tossed around by every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:1-16 says it all.

      The Gospel is enough if it is the full message and based on sound apostolic teaching.

      Paul’s letters are packed with warnings to people about losing what has been given at the start. It’s a constant theme. also Peter’s and James and John. The lot.

      Sound doctrine in Jesus must replace everything else. Must replace all the additions and sacred cows that have gathered momentum and weight and accumulation by teachers in Christendom and away from the simplicity of Jesus and life, oneness and love centred only in him.

      But what tends to happen amounts to adding to what people have already learned.

      No. We must start from scratch—from Jesus only. That’s what the first disciples had to do. That’s what we must teach— the New Covenant and what that means, and stress its importance—the simple teaching of who we are in Christ—new men and women—who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Cant serve two masters.

      You cannot live the New Covenant life in Jesus’ blood while remaining in some other covenant, like a covenant of Churchianity or of a man-made organisation, or of a denomination—or one of your own choice.

      The whole understanding of doctrine in current historic Churchianity is sick, stuck in a kind of poor renovation of Old Covenant shadows, yet fraught with splits, competitiveness, unbelief, envy, lust for power, desire to make a name for ourselves  . . . . . .

      For example, what did Jesus teach about “the church”? Nothing. Just 2 passages in Mathew alone which today do not have the meaning anywhere near what he meant.

      Instead Christendom is all about this imported c….. word.

      Most people have no idea what the original Greek word (ekklesia) means because its translation to c….. in all English bibles is religious, Romish, worldly, even pagan.  Jesus gave NO command about forming churches. Instead he told us to love one another and sure, that means togetherness, yes. It means caring, service, sacrifice for others, being servants and above all, loving one another. Gathering like they did originally.

      He told us to make disciples, heal the sick, set the oppressed free, love one another, lead a holy life, receive the Holy Spirit, walk in the Spirit . . . . . . . . . .

      Christendom and its micro offshoots continue to do what he did not command and ignore what He DID command.

      Christendom is in most places, a mere shadow of the Old Covenant—and without even the wonderful glory of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is a shadow of the New Covenant. But we have made the Old Covenant look by comparison far more glorious than what we see today—at least it had a supernatural glory.

      The apostles declared that the glory of the New Covenant makes the old look a mere shadow. New Covenant life makes the old seem to have no glory at all says Paul (see 2 Corinthians 3).

      You and I must start obeying the sound doctrine of the new covenant! Today.

      No time to lose.

      MORE ON “THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD”

      In my last post I was saying that this phrase “the sovereignty of God” is often trotted out as a simplistic and doctrinaire statement with the effect of killing all sense of responsibility on our part. For many, it excuses them from obedience to the revealed word of God.

      We hear the phrase from writers and preachers who present a view of God as absolute sovereign in such a way that God will “do whatever he wants, when he wants, the way he wants, and he asks no one’s permission”. This herds us into a mental state where God’s word coming to us in the scriptures is not final, settled. So then we fail to hear the voice of the living God who “changes NOT.”

      Yes, God is KING! We acknowledge his right to rule over us and our vital need to obey him and to depend on him. That is the way we have been created, designed, and we fight against life continually and invite death when we fail to maintain the glorious relationship with God freely available to all.

      Life and death is all about our relationship with the Almighty and Ever-living Father God, the Lord of all creation, the One who has given us his word which is “forever settled in heaven” and whose word can never pass away nor be broken and who has given us his final word in his Anointed Son. Thank God he is our King and our victory is assured under his leadership. Let us never stop praising him.

      But we must choose him! Choose life. Choose the King all-glorious and all-loving. His ways are perfect and we know and can trust his ways and that he will never withdraw his love and mercy and care for us.

      The phrase “the sovereignty of God” cannot be found in the Bible and it was never on the lips of Jesus. He expected people to have faith. He lived out a faithful relationship with the Father, indwelt by God in the person of the Holy Spirit. He commands his followers to be the same as he, in the same relationship!

      Jesus had no advantage over us, was subject to the tests and temptations we all face. He could have said no to the will of God in the Garden and followed our first parents’ disobedience in the original Garden. He chose to obey.

      God seeks our cooperation and partnership to carry out His will. How blest we are! He asks us to make disciples, teach them whatever he taught us disciples. He asks us to do the works of Jesus, no less!

      These are not suggestions! NO. These are commands. They cannot be shrugged off by doctrines invented by men like cessation of spiritual gifts” or “once saved always saved” teaching their own doctrines as the will of God. Such teachings void the word of God and put traditions of men in its place.

      Is it all up to us then?

      NO, NO. It is not –he does not leave us alone by ourselves in a world full of evil and sin. No. He promises to be within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a real person—not just an “it” or just an influence. It is time for us to meet and love the Holy Spirit, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit and not the opposite (fulfilling the desires of the flesh).

      It is time for us to learn to “pray in the Holy Spirit”. It is critical that we think in terms of the Holy Spirit day by day. He is our HELPER, our advocate, our intercessor, our teacher, constant reminder of Jesus.

      The Father’s purposes will not met by us. Nor will they be met without us! We are all in this together, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and you and me in a tremendous unity of mind and spirit. He acts through people like you and me.

      THE ANTI-GOSPEL

      Whatever happened to the simplicity of Jesus and his Gospel? Now we have full-blown Christendom instead.

      Sadly, my wife and I know many who have departed from the original faith of the apostles by going on sideshows, men’s ideas. Some turning back to Judaism, to Rome, to mysticism, to mediaeval teachings and practices–people who once walked in close fellowship with us. There are 1000s of sidetracks.

      As if the Jesus of the gospels is insufficient! As if the Holy Spirit is not there to show us, to supply us with the power and authority from the Throne. As if we need more than what we have received from the mouth of the living God as given by the writers of the New Testament!

      As if it is up to us to decide what commands of Jesus to obey—or ignore.

      As if it is up to us to decide how to build the Kingdom of God!

      Jesus, referring to the church leaders of his day said “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind . . .” (Matthew 15).

      All your efforts, all those works of yours, will be rooted up if they are not planted by the Father. Examine your life—is what you are doing “in Jesus’ name”, planted by the Father? Are you helping God?  As if we could!

      Are we, are you, bored with the true gospel, with the simplicity of faith given to us by those who learned from Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Is there something secret in these deviations and systems which you practice that is hidden to everyone else and especially those who are determined to stick with the New Testament?

      When you fail to stay, persist with, persevere in and fight for the “faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” you are in grave danger of drifting into side issues, sideshows, blind alleys, instead of going straight ahead. The Holy Spirit goes straight ahead, takes no detour, constantly points to Jesus and the cross. Where else?

      Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 3-4

      Jude was compelled to write about this knowing the addition and substitution of error for truth, even in those early days. Paul consistently warned about numerous false teachers and prophets to come. Jude goes on . . .

      But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.  These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

      The people who divide you! These are those who follow natural instincts and the result is the 30,000 to 40,000 denominations we have today in the world. And they all claim to be the truth!

      But in Jesus there can be no division, none. We must be one with one another and our oneness comes from being in Him and He in us, one in the Father and the Son as Jesus prayed (John 17). There can be no other way.

      But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.(1st Timothy 6)

      Christendom began to ignore Jesus and his words and has lived according to natural instincts to this day. But it is time to stop and to turn to the real Jesus, the one who has proved himself as the one to obey, to follow.

      THE VANITY OF WORSHIP

      “In vain do they worship me – their teachings are merely human rules”  (Jesus’ words in Mark 7:6—7 of the church leaders who opposed him.)

      Such manifest vanities are today practised and displayed daily by millions of church goers. Jesus could well say of today : they worship me after their own traditions instead of obeying my words.

      Consider : Jesus never asked his disciples to worship him!

      Imagine this absurd scenario:  The first disciples come together to worship Jesus. So they put him up on a throne and lift up their hands or they prostrate themselves! They say they love him, adore him, bowing down and singing before him, sure that their devotion, their religious acts will please him. They devise a form of service and trot it out ….. and they ignore his expressed words in the gospels.

      Or, just imagine the first disciples post-Pentecost composing or going through a liturgy or holding services or dedicating buildings to Jesus! Of course, such scenarios do not fit. Human constructs.

      Instead they show the worth of Jesus by obeying his Holy Spirit, sharing goods, experiencing apostolic teaching, eating together, praying, receiving the Holy Spirit.

      Are we using “worship” as a substitute for plain obedience to Jesus? Faithfulness unto Jesus means we  follow him to the end.

      Many ignore his commands to believe, to pray, to persevere, to go make disciples, to teach all peoples all his commands, to receive the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to him.

      He has unequivocally and expressly stated that his disciples are to put his movement, his kingdom, before their interests and agendas, to put him first, to seek the Father’s will and heart, to sit at his feet, to abide in him, his words abide in them, to love one another as he has loved them.

      Have we forgotten he asks us to lose our lives for his sake, to be fishers of men, to give freely, to rejoice in suffering ….. ?

      Did Jesus start “worship” classes? Did he teach about how to do “services of worship”? Did he appoint worship leaders? The whole idea is absurd. So many human inventions.

      “Do whatever he tells you said Mary, his mother to the servants at the wedding (John 2)—the best advice ever given. The last recorded words of Mary. How spot on! “Do whatever he tells you.

      Now that’s worship: Do whatever he tells you.

      Listen as he teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. His Father’s will not just listened to, but actually done.

      The writings of the whole Bible are all about pleasing God, doing his will, living under his wonderful rule (that’s worth-ship—acknowledging God’s amazing and eternal worth). Isn’t that what Jesus’ parables are all about? The house built on the rock is the person who not only hears but does the will of God.

      Following Jesus is to worship him, obey him, doing whatever he says. It’s obedience to God, not sacrifice that counts, declared the prophets.

      Where is worship in the Letter to the Hebrews, that most Jewish of all the New Testament writings? It’s being provocative, “stirring up one another to love and good works”.  It’s drawing near to God with faith, it’s seriously listening to your leaders, it’s enduring suffering. It is in rendering a sacrifice of praise by our lips which bear witness to his name—that is, being a witness to Jesus. It’s being mature and teaching others.

      Prayer is worship. A notable example is in Acts 4 prayer with shouts of praise to God in the context of persecution.  Study of scriptures is worship.

      Worship is not just a sing-song.

      Worship in Acts? What about Paul and Silas in that Philippi jail in the most uncomfortable circumstances; or with Lydda at place of prayer.  Pauls’ teaching and arguing, and urging, writing letters, always on the go. Frequently imprisoned. Always acknowledging Jesus’ worth.

      For Paul the apostle “acceptable worship” is service to others and witness to Jesus (Romans 12).

      In 1 Corinthians 12-14 it’s building one another up when you meet together with the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit—that’s worth-ship of Jesus.

      In Ephesians 5 it’s “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” … to one another! Edification of the brothers and sisters is worth-ship along with making melody in the heart to the Lord.

      Entertainments are common in many churches today and they call it worship! More like having an indulgent fun time—a substitute for the solid joys of doing what he asks.

      The heart of God is the saving of the lost, that’s worship. Reaching outsiders.

      What did Peter teach? What did John teach? James? And the others? It’s all about serving one another and doing the work of the Lord, being lights in a dark world. Worship in spirit and in truth.

      Though the Israel cultus is gone, yet people feel the need to be religious, to offer up something other than “ourselves, our souls, our bodies as a living sacrifice”.

      The Father “seeks those who will worship in spirit and in truth”.