Skip to content

Archive

Tag: Jesus

In general, it is easy to recite the words that we see written in the Bible.  Most Christians know the prayer that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray as the Lord’s Prayer, and it is recited weekly in congregations around the world.  But have you given thought to what the Lord was instructing His disciples to pray?  What does “Thy Kingdom Come” mean?  Were the disciples being instructed to pray that God’s kingdom be set up upon this earth?  That would seem to contradict the very words of Christ Himself, when He said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)  If this is not an earthly kingdom, then where were the disciples asking that it come?  All we know is life here on this earth.  Perhaps, when the Lord Jesus instructed the disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom Come,” He was implying that the kingdom was to be revealed to them in their lives.  Is it possible that this prayer was given to the disciples because they believed that Jesus is the Christ?  In other words, only those who believe that God fulfilled his promise in Christ Jesus would be able to pray this prayer.  Perhaps it is not a request at all; perhaps it is a declaration. “God, your Kingdom has come in the form of Christ Jesus.  What you have promised, you brought to pass.  God, what you intended has occurred.  Indeed, your will has been accomplished.”  This is not a prayer of hope; it is a declaration of praise given to those who not only believe that Jesus is the Christ, but submit to His will.  If we pray this prayer today, we should do so with much joy, as we are declaring that God brought to pass that which He promised in his covenants of promise to Israel.  We are declaring that the long awaited hope was made manifest in Christ Jesus.  We are rejoicing because God indeed did fulfill his promise!

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on social media, and the topic of being born again was raised.  One person wrote “the Bible tells us how to be born again.”  I rasked “where does the Bible tell us how to be born again?”  The response was “Start reading in the Gospel of John and beforehand, from a sincere heart, ask God to open your understanding and bring the words to life for you.”  The writer could not point me to a verse or passage because no passage exists in the Bible that tells us how to be born again.
The Lord Jesus told us what needs to be done (be born again), but He provided no instruction how to accomplish it.  Similarly, when speaking about the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus told us what the kingdom was like through His parables, but not once did He tell us what the kingdom was.  So what does it mean to be born again?  And how would we know if and when we are born again?  Let us begin by referring back to the exchange that the Lord Jesus had with Nicodemus.  The Lord Jesus said “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  What we know for certain is that we cannot even perceive of the kingdom of God unless we are born again.  The word kingdom is becoming en vogue in this generation, much like the prosperity gospel was extremely popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  But a kingdom is a very real concept.  It is a monarchy, with a ruler of one.  We aren’t used to that form of government.  We are accustomed to a democracy, where we have not only have a separation of powers, but we also elect our President and our lawmakers.  In a kingdom, all of those powers rest in one person – the king. In a kingdom, the king is not elected. In our country, the will of the people is sovereign; in a kingdom, the king is sovereign.  The Lord Jesus was telling us that unless we truly renew our way of thinking about governments, specifically kingdoms, then we will be unable to even perceive the kingdom, or rule, of God.  In the exchange with Nicodemus, it was clear that Nicodemus himself did not recognize that he was standing in the presence of the Christ – the One anointed to rule. Nicodemus referred to the Lord Jesus as “Rabbi,” not “Lord.”  Christ was telling Nicodemus that unless his mind was renewed, Nicodemus would be unable to perceive the rule of God standing in his presence.
If you read the gospels carefully, you will find that those who perceived the kingdom referred to the Lord Jesus as either “Lord” or “Christ.”  Those who did not perceive the kingdom referred to Him as rabbi or master.  So what does it mean to be born again? It means that a person is able to perceive that Jesus is Lord, or Messiah, or Christ, and is therefore able to perceive that God fulfilled his promise of a kingdom to Israel.  It means that a person is able to recognize the rule of God in his or her life, and is willing to submit himself or herself to that rule.  In short, being born again is a new way of thinking that results in a new way of living.

Matt. 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

What exactly does it mean to hunger and thirst after righteousness?  We know how we feel physically when we have been deprived of food or drink for periods of time, but how does that translate to hungering and thirsting after righteousness?  How will we know that we have tasted righteousness?  Even more basic, what is righteousness?  Indeed, these are difficult questions that we cannot avoid.  We must not only meditate upon them, but it is of necessity that we take action upon them.
Fortunately, Paul provided an answer for at least one of those questions.  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote:
Rom. 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The kingdom of God IS righteousness.  Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness; blessed are they who hunger and thirst after the kingdom of God.  Blessed are they whose spirits yearn to be citizens of the kingdom of God.  Blessed are they who are famished, who are weak from being deprived of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, God will fill them with His Spirit that they may never hunger again.  

As we approach the end of the calendar year 2016, the question is asked “what can we expect in 2017?”  Before we take a moment to look ahead, let’s take a moment to see what occurred in 2015 and 2016.  In these two years, we were able to read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome and the letter to the Hebrews from a kingdom perspective.  And, in 2016, we have been studying the kingdom of God in a more detailed way through the book “The Kingdom of God” by John Bright.  This teaching has been a blessing to those who have devoted their time to reading and studying this book.
So what will we do with the foundations that have been established?  We will finish the study on the book “The Kingdom of God,” which occurs on Wednesdays, and we will begin a very important teaching on Significance and Adoption.  Beginning Sunday, January 8, we will study Kingdom Economics, which will be followed by a review of the book A Glimpse of the Kingdom.  After the review, we will begin an in-depth study on the apostle Paul.  Understanding the apostle Paul is crucial to a kingdom understanding of his letters.  And don’t forget, Peter stated that Paul’s writings were hard to understand.  This series will help you unravel the complexities of God’s servant to the Gentiles, and enable you to read Paul’s letters from a kingdom perspective.
We pray that you are enjoying this season, and we look forward to sharing more with you in 2017!

Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Notice the characters the Lord Jesus used in His parable.  He used a priest, whose job it was to minister to the people, a Levite, who as a people were set apart to care for the tabernacle and the temple, in addition to aiding the priests, and a Samaritan, a people who were despised by the Jews.  How ironic that the two men, whose responsibility it was to care for others, not only passed by the wounded man, but intentionally avoided him by crossing over to the other side of the road.  The Samaritan, however, a man who the Jews would have no part of, purposed in his heart to exhibit compassion toward the man.  The Samaritan didn’t simply “feel sorry” for the man; the Samaritan didn’t say “I will pray for you;” the Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  In other words, the Samaritan truly ministered to a man he did not know.  The Samaritan purposed in his heart to treat the wounded man as the Samaritan would want to be treated.  In short, the Lord Jesus showed the lawyer how the definition of neighbor had nothing to do with physical proximity, tribal origin or even nationality.  Being neighborly is now a matter of the heart; it is a matter of spirit.  Your neighbor is not the person who lives next door, or down the street, or even in the same city.  Your neighbor now becomes any human being.  We must now renew our minds to the truth that our neighbor is anyone we meet, and we must be prepared at all times to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

Matt. 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Lord Jesus, the very Messiah God promised, uttered these words.  In short, He was saying that loving your neighbor as yourself equates to treating people the way you would want to be treated.  Notice, however, that Christ added no qualifications or stipulations to this Royal Law.  He did not say “treat others the way you would want to be treated only if they treat you that way.”  Neither did Christ say that you should expect others to treat you that way.  In fact, Christ said quite the opposite:
Luke 6:27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Now, this command of loving your neighbor as yourself takes on a whole new meaning.  Now, we are expected to treat people the way we would want to be treated even if they treat us wrongly first. Kingdom citizens do not retaliate in anger or violence; rather, we retaliate in love.
But what else is the Christ telling us in this passage?  He is telling us that if we obey His command of treating people the way we want to be treated, then we have done nothing less than the equivalent of obeying all of the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  Think about the depth of that statement for a moment.  By practicing this one instruction – that is, treating people the way we would want to be treated – we have met the standard of keeping all of the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  What makes this statement even more profound is that it applies to all who submit to the Lord Jesus.  This means that even if I wasn’t raised as one who was Jewish, by obeying this universal command of Christ I have met the equivalent of fulfilling all that God commanded of Israel in the Law and the Prophets.  Tomorrow, we will continue examining this Royal Law in the story of the Good Samaritan.

James 2:If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

We are going to take some time to examine this principle in detail.  Before we can begin to understand the depth of this royal law, we need to first understand what royal means.  The Greek word for royal is basilikos, which has four different Biblical uses: 1) of or belonging to a king, kingly, royal, or regal; 2) subject to a king; 3) befitting or worthy of a king, royal; and 4) metaphorically principal or chief.  First, we see that this instruction pertains to a kingdom, but what kingdom?  Clearly, this is no earthly kingdom.  This royal law can be found only in the kingdom of God – a kingdom, as the Lord Jesus said, that is not of this world.  This means that we will know any true citizen of the kingdom of God by his submission to this royal law.
Next, we have to understand the concept of the word law.  Most people would interpret the word law as used in this passage as one instruction.  Paul, however, gives us a greater understanding of the depth of this instruction:
Rom. 13:The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Paul is affirming a profound truth.  The instruction “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” is not simply one command, such as obeying the speed limit on a city street.  If I obey the speed limit on a city street, then I have followed one code of all of the codified law in that city.  What Paul is saying, however, is that if I love my neighbor as myself, then I am observing all of the law.  It would be the equivalent of saying that if I obey the speed limit in that city, then I have obeyed all of the other aspects of the codified law of that city.  Put another way, it would be the equivalent of saying that if I am obeying the speed limit while I am driving, then I cannot be cited for littering (even if I do litter) because while I am obeying the speed limit, the city recognizes that I am obeying all of the codes in their law.
What Paul is telling us, the church – those that not only recognize Jesus as Lord, but also obey Him as Lord – is that if we love our neighbor as ourselves, then by obeying that command, we are seen by God as obeying all of the instructions in the law of Moses.  We will study this profound truth in more detail tomorrow.

HIDDEN-IN-PLAIN-SIGHT-logoHappy New Year to you!  We at the Ekklesia of the Lord Jesus Christ hope that you enjoyed your holiday season.  One tradition that most of us are familiar with during this time is the New Year’s Resolution.  You know, those goals or objectives that we resolve to achieve during the calendar year.  While such aims are good and appropriate to us, to an eternal God that never changes, such objectives aren’t necessary.  In fact, our Lord has already given us the single-minded objective which we should be aiming for year by year, day by day, and moment by moment.  That objective is the kingdom of God.  Why don’t more people see this single objective, even though it is referred to frequently in the New Testament?

I was listening to a pastor recently on a local radio program who referenced the following passage during his message:

Acts 1:To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

I pondered that passage for a moment, then reflected on another passage where the Lord Jesus was instructing His disciples before His crucifixion:

Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What did I observe?  That Christ made the kingdom of God a top priority before His crucifixion, and it was His main focus after His resurrection.  In other words, His message didn’t change.  So why don’t more people see this truth?  It is because it is hidden in plain sight.  It is printed in Bibles for all to see, but not all will perceive the kingdom.  Consider the reason that our Lord told His disciples He taught in parables:

Matt. 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

So the kingdom has been made manifest for all to perceive; however, not all will perceive it.  It is amazing how two people can read the same words in the same Bible, yet each obtain a different understanding.  This is why it is imperative to understand another truth:  You can read all the words in a book, and never understand the story.  So instead of making a resolution for this year, make a resolution for this moment that you will do as Christ instructed and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  This is the first step in a life changing process!

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!

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.