Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

POSSESSING THE REIGN – Blessed are the Poor

June 5, 2009

Glory –

It’s what His heart’s been set on from the beginning. Not just before Adam, but before the creation of all things. It’s what His heart is set on: to bring His reign into His new temple, into a living dwelling place that is capable of (which is hard to fathom) displaying His glory, the radiance of His beauty, the radiance of His very nature throughout all creation. And there is not a single star or solar planet that is able to reveal glory like this throughout the entire universe. But He is preparing a sun, a light, a star that will leave no shadows anywhere and will speak, will manifest His very nature throughout His creation. And it is called man, it is called his bride. Is that not a fantastic promise?

Why are we so busy with lesser things? We must give up our small ambitions. Who could grasp anything like this? Who could even think of something greater than what is being offered to the sons of Adam in Christ Jesus?

Now, go back to verse 3 in Matthew 5 and see the Universal Principal.

 “Blessed are the poor…” In Luke 6 it says, “Blessed are the poor and woe to the rich.”

Having wealth is an awesome responsibility and an easy trap. We think it’s ours. And we think it’s for us. And we even think that it came to us because of something inherently good or right or better about us.

Ugly Americans –

 All you have to do to understand this is to see Americans overseas. I’ve traveled overseas. Americans are not pretty people overseas. They are ugly overseas. There is a reason the world has a leaning against Americans. They admire us on the one hand and on the other hand they can hardly stand us. You have to spend some time elsewhere to understand that. We think we’ve deserved what we have. Most of the world has worked harder from day break until dusk just to eat, just to eat. And we think that our abundance has something to do with us. That’s a lie from the pit.

Really Poor –

My father was a godly man who always knew more than I’ll ever know. And he had to work two to three jobs at a time to feed our family. He dropped out of medical school in the depression. I was raised in a four room house with no running water. Poor! It was not because my father was not smart or did not work harder that I have ever worked.

And in high school I had a drafting teacher that took an interest in me and taught me how to do house plans and I was in business my second year out of school and thought it was because of me.

Woe to the rich!

It does not mean it’s impossible. All things with God are possible. But it’s extremely hard for Americans to come into the reign. I believe that’s applicable. It’s extremely hard. The most difficult mission field in the world is here in the West, in America. The church is growing; the kingdom is increasing by leaps and bounds in third-world countries. Percentiles are in the 1000s. And we are dying here.

And we are so arrogant that we believe that if God’s going to move in the earth it’s going to begin here. All you have to do is listen to what we are saying publicly. Listen to our mission endeavors. We see ourselves as the largest mission country in the world. That’s a lie. That’s a lie. We are the largest funded, do it on an American scale, mission country in the world. And God has used the mission movement in America. I’m not decrying that. But I am here to tell you that there are churches in China that are sending out thousands with nothing; no purse, no bread, no support. They are doing it. Thousands! And they are looking to the Middle East and they’re praying for America and the west. And we are so trapped by that but even when we hear it from a John Brown, if we had a choice between two fronts, we’ll pick the one where we are losing. Is it starting to register a little?

We’ve got to change our paradigm. We’ve got to see out of His eyes. We cannot say that it is a mistake in Luke because it does not say, “poor in spirit.” You cannot say that’s an error; that’s a half truth, that’s not a full truth. It is a full truth, but He has something more to say.

DEFINING KINGDOM – What Can I Do To Enter In?

January 16, 2009

Now go to Luke 18:18:

A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “why do you call Me good?”

Now, this is a ruler of the people which means that he was a scribe, a Pharisee, or a Sadducee. But, being a ruler, it was required of him to know the Law. He had to know every jot and tittles of the Law. He had to know how many punctuation marks there were in every text of the Law. That’s how they memorized it. That’s how they were tested. They would be asked, “Tell me how many commas and periods and accent marks there are in Isaiah 53.” They’d have to give an answer. The only way they would know the answer would be to know the text. And this was a ruler of the Law and this ruler of the Law knew that one of the Laws that they had extended out of the Law that God gave was that you call no man good – only God is good. And a ruler of the people would never, ever refer to someone as good.

Some who know me may have noticed that I use the phrase with some of my close friends, “good brother.” It is a play on this text. It is saying what this rich young ruler was saying to Jesus: “I see God in you.” And that’s what this rich young ruler was doing. He was risking much. But the proof is that he not only saw a life that was different, but it was a God kind of life. And it could only be described by him as a God kind of thing when he says, “Good Teacher…”

And to a Hebrew, eternal life had little to do with duration. Eternal had more to do with quality. And that’s really the issue with all of us. The issue is not how long will you be, the issue is the quality of your eternity, because you were created in the image and likeness of God. The issue is not eternity; the issue is heaven or hell. The issue is fire or something a bit more comfortable. The issue is quality. And this rich young ruler saw whatever it was that was more than duration but quality, a God kind of quality that was in Jesus. And when the rich young ruler comes and says, “Good Teacher,” Jesus responds with a tongue-in-cheek, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Well, the rich young ruler had an opportunity there to retract what he had said, because Jesus was reminding him of a regulation in the Law. But the ruler does not pull back. He continues in verse 21: And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” “I have kept the Law, good Teacher.”

Verse 22:

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

A new Law? Be careful before you answer that.

And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”

Oops! I thought we were talking about eternal life? Jesus uses in a synonymous way “eternal life” and “entering the kingdom of God.” And there are many other texts that would make this connection. You need to make this connection too. Eternal life and entering the kingdom are one and the same. And you might ask yourself, “I wonder how this basileia is translated or is being used in this particular text – “to enter the kingdom of God?”

Hard For The Rich –

It might help us to know, before we go on to the next verse, that the average American household income puts that average American in the top 1% of the wealth of the world. So when we are thinking about the rich – you know, we think of wealth that is always beyond what we have. And it may be beyond for many of us. There is a lot beyond us, isn’t there? We use to think of the wealthy in terms of millionaires and now billionaires are the common extreme rich. But the average American is in the top 1% of the wealth of the world. So evidently the rich are rarer than that. Maybe they are in the top 1/10 of 1% of the wealth of the world or something like that. It is certainly beyond us.

Jesus continues, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

You are all familiar with this text. I’m sure you’ve heard it preached. Some say that the “eye of the needle” is a gate in the city. And in order for a person to enter after dark, they had to come by way of the “gate of the needle.” And this needle gate would require that everything on the camel is unloaded. You couldn’t enter the city armed or bring anything in undisclosed. And so, in order for a camel to get through, it would have to be stripped of its luggage and the camel would have to literally scoot in on its knees to enter the city after dark. It was a security precaution.

Others say that this is simply an illustration by Jesus of a physical impossibility: for a camel, the largest animal in that area of the world, to pass through the smallest opening, the eye of a needle.

The issue is really not the interpretation of the “eye of the needle” in this commentary. It really doesn’t matter one iota in the context of this book or in the context of Scripture which way it is interpreted. Either way the result is the same. It’s harder to enter the kingdom of God if you are among the wealthy than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. That’s the imagery that is being used here.

Then the disciples took up the commentary in verse 26,

They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”

Wait a minute! I thought we were talking about eternal life or entering the kingdom. And now the question is raised by the disciples, “Well then, who can be saved?” It’s as if they are saying, “Who can have eternal life or who can enter the kingdom?” It’s synonymous. Salvation has to do with entering the kingdom. We’ve obviously held this precept that salvation has to do with eternal life. But you need to see that it also relates to the realm of His reign. All three are used in the same text, all are used synonymously. So, when you go to talk about eternal life to your friends, your brothers and your sisters, you need to know that it includes entering the kingdom, the realm of the reign; it includes coming under the reign.

So, we ask the question, what is Jesus doing here? Is Jesus adding another Law, like, “you call no one good, only God is good,” or “thou shalt not kill?” Is Jesus laying down a new law for being a disciple? Well, no He isn’t. What is He doing? Yes, Jesus knows what is keeping this young man down. And what’s keeping him down? His riches? No! His trust? Certainly that is part of it. But, it seems to me Jesus is saying, “Will you give Me the right…to your life? You’ve asked Me about this because you have seen God in Me. Will you allow the God in Me to say something to you? Will you give Me the right to say, “You are lacking something and the only way for you to make up the lack is to sell all that you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.”

The 12 Preach the Gospel –

November 21, 2008

 

            And so we go from Luke 4:43 to Luke 9, verses 1, 2 and 6. In Luke 9 we see Jesus call together His 12:

 

   And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.

 

            And I want to suggest to you that what Jesus was doing was a demonstration of “this gospel.” And whatever this gospel of the kingdom is, it is represented by the power and authority over everything that was wrong. All sickness, all manner of diseases, all demon possession; He reigned over them all, and He is demonstrating that here.

Mt. 4:19

            But now He’s called His twelve together and we’re about 14 to 16 months into the ministry of Jesus with His twelve. They are about halfway through or a little over halfway through their time with Jesus. They are walking with Jesus that they might be made as He is. That’s what He said, “Follow Me and I will make you…” “Isn’t it enough that a disciple be as his teacher, and a servant as his master…”(see Mt. 10:25a). They are following Him to become like Him. He has been preaching this gospel, and now He calls them aside and the Scripture says that He:

 

…gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and to perform healing.

 

            They are sent out to preach the very same thing that He preached and they are manifesting signs and wonders.

   In verse 6 they leave:

 

Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel…

 

            He says, “Go and preach the kingdom of God.” Then, in verse 6 it says they went “preaching the gospel…” It’s clear what the gospel was that which they were preaching. It means something!

 

 

Saved From or To –        

 

            I’m trying to raise a big question mark in your heart if you’ve not understood this, because it is the gospel – it is the power of God unto salvation. Not saved from – that’s the blood and body of Jesus. A salvation that is only a salvation from has you no better off than the Israelites were after they were saved from Egypt but still were laid low in the wilderness never to enter into the promise. The greater issue is of being saved to.

            I just had someone share with me that the pastor at Mt. Paran, I don’t remember who shared with me, just recently preached on “Salvation is more than from.” The greater is what we are saved to. This gospel is the power of God unto. It is the power to enter into the promise, if I can be so bold. So this was what the disciples were preaching while Jesus was with them.

 

Preaching the Good News –

 

            We go from Luke 9 to Acts chapter 8, verse 12: But when they believed Philip preaching the good news… Oops! Philip is preaching the gospel? What good news is Philip preaching? 

            Phillip is preaching the kingdom of God. Put a little circle at least in your mind, around that little ‘and.’ Philip was preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.

            Of first importance is death, burial and resurrection. But it distinguishes it here “and the things concerning Jesus.”