Skip to content

Archive

Tag: Christ

1 Cor. 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

This is an extremely hard truth to accept.  It is easy to read, to recite, to even commit to memory; but oh, how hard it is to actually submit to God’s will in this matter!  God not only sets me in the spiritual body of Christ, but it also manifests itself in the earth by God placing me where he desires me to accomplish his will.
If you ask most saints why they are connected to the congregation they are connected to, most likely you will receive a litany of responses: this is the church they were raised in, this church has good teaching, this church provides child care, this church has powerful praise and worship, the times are convenient, etc.  If, however, you ask those same saints if God set them there, if they are honest with themselves, they will become silent.  Indeed, some may respond in amazement that you dared to ask the question, but most saints have never really given thought to where God desires to place them.  Then, what happens when there is a leadership change?  How do people respond when church hurt occurs?  Situations like these become the catalyst for “vagabond Christians.”  What is a vagabond?  A vagabond is a wanderer, one who has no place to dwell.  In the body of Christ, we have far too many vagabond Christians today.  These are saints that are not set where God has placed them.  They truly do not know where God has placed them in the spiritual body, and they do not know where God has set them in the earth.  In this country, the United States of America, we have freedom of choice, and we have extended that liberty to our faith.  In this land of opportunity we live in, our mode of operation is to find a job, then go to the place where the job is, find a place to live, then find a congregation.  But what if we have reversed the order?  What if God desires to set us in a locality, and it is in that locality that God has our provision?  What if we were to make the city and congregation the priority?  What if we were to actually submit to God’s will by seeking first the kingdom of God?
Are you in the place that it pleased God to set you?  Be bold and ask him.  If you ask him, he will respond.  Remember, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  Remember, you are valued in the body of Christ, and you have a function here on this earth.  You have a place, and you have a purpose.  Seek that purpose and place with passion!

1 Cor. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Is there any part of your body that you don’t need?  Is there any part of your body that you thought you were better off without?  Most people would say they need every part of their bodies, and that they would be worse off if they were missing any part of their bodies.  Paul likened the church to a human body.  Human bodies are organisms, not organizations.  Paul is implying that the church is an organism, not an organization.  Organizations can add and remove as they see fit.  Organisms need every part they have.  What’s more, since God creates organisms, he arranges them as it suits him, not us.  In the kingdom of God and the body of Christ, we don’t pick and choose who we work with.  We work with those who God has arranged us to be with.  You may not understand why God has that seemingly annoying person around you. Perhaps God is using that person’s annoying behavior to teach you patience.  You may be bothered by that person that appears to be always in need.  Perhaps God is using that person’s lack to teach you generosity.

Have you ever had a dislocated bone in your body?  When a bone dislocates, it is very painful.  It is painful because it is out of place; it is not where it was intended to be.  This also occurs in the body of Christ when people are out of place, whether by their own choice or because of someone else’s influence.  And when one part of the body hurts, then the whole body hurts.  Tomorrow, we will continue with this topic by discussing vagabond Christians.

“Jesus’ claim to Messiahship must therefore be interpreted in the light of his whole conception of the Kingdom.  While he starts from the hope of a new age he thinks not so much of an outward change as of the spiritual conditions which will obtain in the future.  To have a will in harmony with God’s will, to enter into fellowship with God, is to possess the Kingdom.  The work of the Messiah is to make this new life possible.  Through the Messiah men will attain to the Kingdom in the sense that they will apprehend the higher world, they will receive power to do God’s will, they will know God as Father.  This is not to import a fanciful allegorical meaning into Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, but only to explain it in accordance with his own teaching.  Everywhere in Jewish thought the idea of Messiah is determined by some given view of the Kingdom of God.”

Today, we read an excerpt from the upcoming book “A Glimpse of the Kingdom”:

“God, however, is not a God that desires to coerce anyone into loving and obeying him.  God wants the heart of a person; or in this case, the heart of a nation.  Think about that principle for a moment – what mother, who carried a child in her womb for nine months, and then fed and provided for the child, would not want the affection of that child?  What father would not want the love and admiration of his children?  What husband would not want to be revered by his wife?  Likewise, God desired to be loved and honored by the nation he chose out of all the other nations in this world.”

Just as God desired the affection and love of Israel, Christ desires the love and affection of the church.  How do we show that love and affection?  Through our obedience.  “If you love me, obey my commands.”  The true church should be striving to unite, not divide.  There is only one bride Christ Jesus is returning for – the unified church.  May the spiritual church endeavor to be one.

The Kingdom Marriage Retreat held this past Saturday was a truly transformational, life-changing event!  Couples had the opportunity to engage in activities that allowed them to assess where they are in their marriage, and what could be done immediately to cause their marriage to be more of a reflection of the kingdom of heaven.
KingMar01
In the first exercise, couples shared what their perceptions of marriage was before they were married, compared to what marriage actually is.  This was  powerful moment, as husbands and wives realized that a marriage is more than the wedding, and that problems are not solved like we see them portrayed on television, in a 30 or 60 minute episode.
KingMar02
In the next exercise, the wives had to navigate through a minefield with their eyes closed, listening only to the voice of their husbands for direction.  If the wives hit one of the mines, they had to go back to the beginning and start all over again.  This was truly a prophetic teaching moment for many of the couples.
KingMar03
Finally, couples were challenged to communicate with one another and to forgive one another quickly.  This exercise displayed to many couples the barriers that prevented them from expressing their true feelings to one another, and it also allowed each spouse to see graphically how their actions affected the other.

This dynamic event is not a conference, where participants sit and listen to speakers and are encouraged to buy books and CDs.  Participants are actively engaged throughout this retreat, and leave with practical tools to help them shape their marriage into one that more closely reflects the covenant God has with Israel in the Old Testament, and the relationship between Christ and the church in the New Testament.  If you or your fellowship would like to conduct a Kingdom Marriage Retreat, please contact us for more information.  It will be well worth the investment!

Book coverThis is an exciting time!  The book “A Glimpse of the Kingdom” is in its production stage, and will be available for purchase soon.  This book is both very simple and very challenging.  It is very simple to read, as it is not an academic book, but it is challenging because much of the information contained in the book opposes what is traditionally taught in organized religion.  In short, you will have to renew your mind to the truth that neither the kingdom of God nor the Bible are religious.  They are both governmental.  If, however, you are willing to submit yourself to Christ’s imperative to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” then this book is an absolute must read for you.  In this book you will discover:
– What is this kingdom that Christ commands us to seek
– How Christ explained this kingdom in His parables
– How this kingdom is explained in the Old Testament
– What the true message of the gospel is
– How we are to live on this earth as citizens of the kingdom (no, we do NOT have dual citizenship!)
Be sure to reserve your copy now by sending your name and contact information (address and e-mail) to info@fogocinti.org.  Please include if you prefer a hardback or paperback edition.  The cost of the book is $24.99 for hardback, $15.99 for paperback, and $3.99 for ebook.  Many have asked for an autographed copy of the book.  Please indicate if you would like one in your email.

Thank you for all of your support in sharing the gospel of the kingdom to all of the world!

judaismA reader and brother in the faith recently asked: “I notice you focus on the Jews more than most believers. Just curious as to why.”
The simple answer to this question is because the promise of the kingdom of God was given to the Jews.  Understanding this, however, becomes the foundation of our faith.  It is true that God is not a respecter of persons, and that the gospel is available to both the Jew and the Gentile; however, God is a God of order, and the order is that the gospel was revealed first to the Jews because the promise was given to the Jews only.  Paul explained this order when he spoke of the gospel in his letter to the Romans:
Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Paul’s comment can be proven in the gospel of Matthew, when Christ Jesus first gave instructions to His disciples to proclaim the gospel:
Matt. 10:These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Gentile believers, therefore, were not partakers of the promise, because the promise of the kingdom was part of the covenant God made with the Jews. God made this covenant with only one nation, the nation of Israel.  Again, Paul made this distinction clear in his letter to the Ephesians:
Eph. 2:
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Before the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the only hope a Gentile had of being a partaker of the kingdom inheritance was to convert to Judaism. After the resurrection, the gospel was presented to the entire world to anyone who received the good news of the kingdom and submitted to the rule of Christ Jesus.  This presentation of the gospel to the Gentiles was foretold by the prophet Isaiah:
Isa. 49: And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
While we must understand the origins of our faith, the blessing is that once the gospel was presented to all the world, God never required the Gentiles to convert to Judaism:
1 Cor. 7:
18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
In other words, Paul was saying if you responded to the gospel as a Jew, then remain a Jew.  If you responded to the gospel as a Gentile, then remain a Gentile.  The kingdom of God is not focused on the outward man, but is focused on the heart.  It is the heart that must be circumcised, and that for both Jew and Gentile.  It is the circumcised heart that determines our citizenship in the kingdom of God.

Looking at the cross1 Cor. 15:3 – For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Yesterday, we discussed why the Lord Jesus had to die.  It was necessary for Him to die in order that God may raise Him from the dead.  But what does it mean that Christ died for our sins?  If we look at the above passage in isolation, it is easy for us to place a period at the end of that passage instead of recognizing the comma that is there, implying that there is more to the sentence.  Many Christians like to read the above passage as follows:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  If read in that fashion, one can easily see why we would focus on the death of Christ.  Yet, it is not a period at the end of that phrase, but a comma, indicating there is more:
1 Cor. 15:that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
Paul didn’t stop at the death of Christ; indeed, Paul knew that the good news was that God raised Christ from the dead.  So what, then, does it mean that Christ died for our sins?  Did Christ die so we wouldn’t have to?  Paul explains this further in his letter to the Colossians:
Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
So what is Paul suggesting here?  Simply put, Paul is saying that sin was a slaveowner, and we were the slaves.  What Christ did, then, was to set us free from the slaveowner of sin by purchasing us to be His bondservants. In short, we were transferred from one owner to another.  Here is what Paul told the elders at Ephesus:
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”  So in truth, we weren’t emancipated from sin to live life as we please; rather, we were transferred from one property owner to another.  When we say Christ died for our sins, it doesn’t mean He performed a duty on our behalf.  For example, if I needed to wash my dishes, and my wife said “I did that for you,” that implies that I no longer have to perform that task.  She completed the task on my behalf.  But did Christ die so we wouldn’t have to?  Consider what Paul said in his letter to the Galatians:
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul explains it clearly in his letter to the church at Corinth:
1 Cor. 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.
We, the church, were bought at a price.  We are not our own.  Christ’s death symbolized the purchase of our lives.  We were transferred from one property owner to another.  In truth, we were never freed to live as we please.  We were purchased to labor in His kingdom.  In short, Christ did not die so we would not have to; He died as the prototype to show us how we must die to the things of the world and live in this world as citizens of His kingdom.  As a wise man and dear friend helped me see, we do not have dual citizenship.  Our citizenship is in heaven only if we are not looking at Christ on the cross by Himself, but rather seeing ourselves crucified with Him.  Christ died for us, in order that we may follow His example.

cross (2)It was inevitable.  In our home school at the fellowship, we were reading the gospel of Mark chapter 15.  It is in this chapter that the Lord Jesus is apprehended and crucified.  After I had finished reading the chapter, it was time for questions.  “Why did Jesus have to die?”  At this point, it would have been simple to respond by simply saying “He died for our sins,” or “He died so we can live.”  However, this was an opportunity to explain the crucifixion from a kingdom perspective.  First, I reminded the student that in Mark’s gospel, that Christ no less than three times reminded His disciples that He must die:
Mark 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many thingsand be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
Mark 9:30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
Mark 10:32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Even at the mountain of Transfiguration, the Lord Jesus reminded Peter, James and John that He would rise from the dead through His instruction to them:
Mark 9:
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?
So why did the Lord Jesus have to suffer and be crucified?  One of the answers is that it had to occur because God declared it.  If the Great King spoke it, then it must happen.  Remember, God is a Great King, and the commands of a king must be obeyed.  As I was responding to the question, however, the Holy Spirit revealed another reason to me which I hadn’t previously considered.  It was a surprisingly simple reason: if Christ did not die, God could not have raised Him from the dead.  It was at that moment that the gospel message became even more clear.  The good news was not that Christ died – there is no power in death – but rather, that God raised Him from the dead.  This is the process that happens to us.  Before we hear the gospel, we were dead people walking.  We were separated from God, dead in sins and trespasses.  When we respond to the call of the gospel, however, the Holy Spirit gives life to our human spirit, and we are raised to life in Christ Jesus.  In truth, we follow the same process that our Lord followed.  We are to put to death the old man, and walk in the spirit of the new man, raised to life by the Spirit of God.  However, we would could not walk in the Spirit unless, like Christ, we put to death the old man.  In other words, we must be crucified like Christ and with Christ.  Tomorrow, we will discuss this crucifixion process in more detail, for it is truly easy to talk about, but much more difficult to put into action.  

 

2949307752_girl_xlargeAt one point as the Lord Jesus was teaching His disciples, He instructed them how they should respond when they are brought before authorities:
Luke 12:11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be worried about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are at a complete loss for words?  Your mind draws a blank, and you simply don’t know what to say.  I know I have been there numerous times.  Over the years, I began to realize that the reason I was at a loss for words was because I was doing the speaking.  I was refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me.  In other words, in that moment, I had not yielded myself to the Spirit of God. As I learned more about the kingdom of God and his rule, I learned a powerful lesson.  That lesson was to speak only if the Spirit gave me the words to speak.  If He gave me no words, I would simply listen.  If He led me to inquire more, I would ask the questions He gave me to ask.  I found over time that words are not necessary in every situation.  What is necessary, however, is our obedience to Christ.  He knows the person and the situation better than we could ever know it.  Our desire should be that we can be used as a vessel in order that God can be glorified.  If I desire to be the hero, then the focus will be on me.  If I desire that God be glorified, then the focus will be on him.  The only way that God will be glorified is by us submitting to his instruction.  We are to be quick to hear (naturally and spiritually), and slow to speak.