Archive for January, 2015

Living the Gospel

Friday, January 9th, 2015

They did not crucify Jesus because He preached a gospel like that which the church teaches as truth, a gospel of that nature leads only to derision, for it is nothing more than words, hot air that rises no further than the ceiling.  The reason Jesus was put to death was that the power He walked in unsettled the religious of His day.  He scared them for they could not refute His words, or deny His power, and His presence could not be ignored.  So for them to survive as a nation, with a religion intact as they believed God intended, meant that Jesus had to die.

Jesus upset people because of His persistence, no one could make Him go away.  His heart was turned toward His people and He gave Himself to the utmost.  If Jesus had not come and walked to the utmost He would not have been killed, but because He came and walked and talked and acted, with power in their midst, He threatened them.  He set His course, reaching out to any who would listen, giving men reason to respond.  The presence of His love revealed the secrets of men’s hearts.

His entire life was offering Himself up for death.  He knew from the outset that men were held captive from their hearts to sin.  He had come into the midst of a household, an entire nation, descended from one father, Abraham, the planting of God, to declare the truth of God’s love.  This household, though planted by God in love, had been plundered, seized by a power hostile to God, a thief.  The reality of this plunder was that the nation of Israel lay now in the hand of the Romans, because the people had wandered far from the paths of God.

Jesus had come to confront the thief (not Rome itself but the spiritual power behind its strength, the same spiritual power that controlled the hearts of those who called themselves God’s people) and take the intruder’s ill-gotten gain, and bring back the captives to God.  The way was the cross, “Unless you pick up your cross and follow you cannot be my disciple,” He said, for like Moses before Him, who had led His people from Egypt, He had come to lead His people, forever, from the hand of the enemy into the real and abiding promised land of God.

This land, His kingdom, was not here on earth.  His kingdom was a land where no sin dwelt or in any way held sway.  So Jesus was not concerned to make a Christian nation here on earth, but He had come to enable us to enter His heavenly realm.  For us to dwell with Him we had to become like Him, pure and perfect.  To be witnesses of His power we had to become like Him, not in some future untried sense, but here and now in this world.

The way of the cross was a deliberate acceptance of death, for death was the power in which we were all held, and to conquer it, have victory over death, was the path to life and the eternal freedom to worship God, in Spirit and in truth.  Jesus knew that He had power over death and could not be held hostage to it, even though it was to cost Him every ounce of His strength and cause Him to sweat blood facing the ordeal.   In taking up our cross we must arrive at the same knowledge as He of life, of power over death, and walk with the same strength and resolve as we see at work in Him.

The gospel which the church teaches is far away from being in conformity to His life and death and resurrection.  It isn't sufficient to speak of sorrow for your sins, or to endeavor to live a righteous life, or to spend hours on your knees in prayer or reading scriptures, for what makes us Christians are none of these things but rather it is His life flowing through us, revealing the same strength and commitment as His.  How can we preach the Gospel unless we walk gladly, as He walked, to our death?  How can we reveal the truth of Christ’s love unless we too know the victory over sin that He knew?  It is through His death that we enter into life, not because of it, as the church teaches.

As the blood of the Passover lamb provided the way of escape from death in the flight of the children of Israel from Egypt, so now the greater power of the blood of Christ frees us from death and has us enter the place of life.  It is not the blood of an animal but the out-poured blood of the Son of God that works on those who follow Him to life.  The blood is not applied on the lintels of our house but rather it cleanses our very conscience from the dead works of the sin which once ruled us.  The power of His blood to free us is far deeper than the church knows or teaches, for if it knew the full power of His blood it would not still walk in its sins.

All of Jesus life and teaching was to accomplish this miracle in us.  That we might be born again, not of flesh and blood, but of the spiritual power and life of God.  If we wish to be called His children and to address God as ‘Father’ then we must be like Him, dead to this world, of the power of sin and the ways of men.  He offered His life up as a living sacrifice to God and if our response to Him is real then we too must offer up our life also as a living sacrifice to God.  Jesus said to His disciples that He would make them fishers of men, for He knew that they would receive the love that He had for them which would transform them to be like Him.  As He was empowered by a baptism of the Spirit at the start of His ministry they too would receive the same baptism after His death.  Still, even with all the power and love of Christ poured out on their faith, most of Israel rejected Him. 

If the church were really God’s children, washed in Christ’s blood, then we would see in our midst an amazing power of love and purpose and power over death.  The strength of such power would shake the world like Jerusalem shook at Pentecost, and the people of the world would have reason to be compelled to enter into life, for the power and witness of God’s rule would be visible for all to see.

We are called to be a city set on a hill instead, the church, is more like salt that is trampled underfoot by men.