Love Personified

By Michael Clark and Susanne Schuberth

woman-at-the-wellSusanne wrote in an earlier blog,

“I was just pondering on the fact why we as human beings are not always the same. I mean, there are people with whom we dare to be more open than with others. People of whom we know that they love us and that they will forgive us whatever we might say or do. But there are other people we do not know that intimately and therefore we are a still bit cautious of how to deal with them.” (https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/be-who-you-are-since-there-is-no-other-you/)

There is something that the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well felt about Jesus that made her dare to be totally open with Him. When we hear the story about her preached, many like to say that Jesus confronted her with her sins. Susanne and I hold that this was not the case, but rather she was confronted with how much Jesus loved and respected her in spite of knowing what her past history was. She was shocked that He was even talking with her and asked her for a drink, knowing that Jews did not have anything to do with Samaritans, much less a Jewish man with a Samaritan woman! She was the dog of dogs in the mind of an orthodox Jewish Rabbi.

Yet, Jesus personally shared the gospel with her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10 RSVA). Jesus told her that He was the Gift of God and that as such He could give her the water of life that flows freely. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14 RSVA). What is amazing is that she did not for one moment doubt His offer that He could give her living water and eternal life! She responded, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (John 4:15 RSVA). She wanted all that He had for her because she realized that she had met the lover of her soul, the first man in her life who was not interested in what she had to offer him, but who wanted to give her what she really needed. We know that this man was God, too. A human being can never fill the void in our hearts which were created by God to only be filled with His Spirit. His love is the only love that can make us whole again.

Jesus, after offering her eternal life and she wanting it, pointed out to her that she was living with a man who was not her husband. Yet, where was the condemnation? It was not there! Rather He commended her for telling the truth, “I have no husband.” This woman felt no shame or condemnation from Him, only love and respect. And what was her response to this divine encounter? She said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he. ” …So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’” (John 4:25-29 RSVA). Jesus had shown her in a few words the very inner thoughts and longings of her heart. Messiah had come and showed her all things including that men would no longer worship God in special buildings or in special places, but that true worship would be done by God’s Spirit within them from lives filled with and demonstrating His truth.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did!” I don’t know about you, but we believe that if this woman had been shamed by what Jesus said to her, would she be telling everyone she knows that there is a man down by the well that knows every sin she ever committed? No, she would be hiding out in her house, hoping He would go away and keep silent! But she ran into her village and rejoiced for having met the Christ. THAT IS THE GOSPEL. She met LOVE personified. He showed her compassion and understood WHY she had sought love in men and had been married five times before. But He did not condemn her in the slightest, but rather told her about where to find eternal life and what real worship of our heavenly Father is all about; therefore she trusted in Him.

All too often the gospel today is presented to people in one of two extremes. On the one hand people get the idea that they have to “clean up their act” before they can come to Christ. The other extreme is that we can be a Christian without ever having to change a thing, we can just go on living in sin with impunity. Neither is true. But we finally see that the love our Father has for us is not contingent on our performance, for He makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall of both the bad and the good. We love Him because He first loves us. What follows from that love relationship is a longing to please the One who loves us so much. We are given the Spirit of God who speaks in our hearts when He wants us to change and what it is that pleases Him and it is because of our love relationship with our Father that we are empowered to change. Love is the most powerful motivator known to man and GOD IS LOVE.

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Who Needs Love?

By Michael Clark and Susanne Schuberth

cub-playing-with-its-mother-s-tailIt is not the loveable person that needs to be loved. It is the unlovable person, the clamoring child, the rebellious adult, the nasty friend, the raging parent, in a nutshell, it is the SINNER that needs to be healed. If we react to misbehavior by speaking mere words alone, they might be able to bring across what we mean, but without love they will never touch the heart of someone who has gone wild. “Words” alone are based on knowledge… what we think we know or what we feel. But if our words are not tempered with grace, they can kill and wound. For it is written,

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
(Proverbs 15:18 RSVA)

Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.
(James 1:19-20 RSVA)

Just yesterday I (Susanne) read about some pastors’ concern regarding the need to continually preach the gospel to the sinner. That is not wrong, so far. However, if they only preach it and are not yet able to live what they preach, can their message really be trusted (or taken to heart)? They believe if a message is or was true, it must be preached anytime. Yet preaching a message without listening to the Holy Spirit can be like reading a phone book to your audience. If the Spirit does not make a message alive, the words are “dead”and they fall to the ground, unheard.

Praying for God’s guidance before we speak is always good, especially when dealing with those who are in rebellion. Teenagers go through rebellion as they try to get free of parental controls over them and want to find out for themselves who THEY are and what THEY want to do in life. On the one hand they want the security of their parents’ home, but on the other they hate the rules and value system that make it a secure place. Even adults rebel at times for different reasons and it is not any easier to deal with them, is it? And how often do we rebuke someone that is “going off” on us with our own flesh in mind wanting to get even? But when we REACT to another person’s flesh with our flesh, we only pour more fuel on the fire. Indeed, lavishing a plethora of “wise words” on others is always more of a hindrance than a help as the following Scripture confirms.

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth. (Proverbs 10:19-20 RSVA)

And then we have Paul’s words of “choice silver” from the Lord,

And though I… understand all mysteries, and all knowledge… and have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2 KJ2000)

Words spoken, no matter how wise and filled with knowledge they are, are worth nothing without love. Or in other words,

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.”
Teresa of Ávila

❤ Brothers and sisters, LOVE is all we need. ❤

Is Our Time Always?

Jesus against the crowdDo you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works… Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. (John 14:10 &12 RSVA)

What could I mean by this by this title, “Is our time always?” When Jesus was with His brothers in Nazareth, one of the big annual feasts came up. Every devout Jew was required to attend it if he could. In the Gospel of John we read:

After this Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. (John 7:1-7 RSVA)

Jesus’ very own brothers did not believe in Him. They were tempting Him to do the “reasonable” thing. “Hey, Jesus! Here is your big chance. Your disciples and all who believe in God will be at this feast in Jerusalem. Get on up there and do your miracles and blow their minds with your wisdom and Bible knowledge. Don’t you know that it pays to advertise? Location, location, location! What are you doing hanging around in this back-water town?” Weren’t they being reasonable according to the way most people think today? “Seize the moment! Go for the gusto!” To this Jesus replied, “Your time is always! You can come and go as you will, but I cannot.” T. Austin Sparks wrote,

You get to the heart of everything in the case of the Lord Jesus when you recognize that the one question which constituted the testing ground of His life was: “Will this Man act alone, speak alone, choose alone, decide alone, move alone?” And His answer was always, “Not out from Myself!” “The Son can do nothing out from Himself.” “The words that I speak unto you I speak not out from Myself.” Every kind of appeal was made to Him to persuade Him on the impulse of the moment, or in response to an entreaty that seemed to promise success, or by an argument that appeared to be the truest wisdom, to move, act, speak, do something as out from Himself….*

Jesus was tempted in this very same way by the devil during His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” (Matthew 4:5-7 RSVA)

“Yes, Jesus, you are the Son of God, leap off the pinnacle of the temple in front of all the faithful worshipers in Jerusalem and His angels will catch you and you will float down to the ground like a feather. It will blow their minds and you will be able to prove to them and yourself that you are the Messiah! Think of the instant following you will get!” The devil often tempts us to do the “reasonable thing.” Acting on our own for the benefit of others without getting the direction of our Father seems like the reasonable thing to do. “God has given you this gift! Shouldn’t you use it to the max?” But have you asked Jesus what to do? Are not we His disciples? Did not He say to His disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing”? T. A. Sparks continues:

That ninety-nine people do a thing is no argument for the hundredth to do it. We are not to be led by the appeals that decide the actions of the many – “It is the popular thing! Everybody else is doing it! It is the recognized thing to do!” No! Does my Father want me to do this thing? That is the question that must ever rule our steps. In the case of the Lord Jesus there was all the time an underworking to get Him to adopt the contrary course, to act without inquiry of His Father, without direct leading from His Father; to act in His individual capacity as though He were His own Master, as though He had not to make appeal elsewhere… *

In the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness, in Luke we read, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him for a season.” (Luke 4:13 KJ2000). Have you ever wondered when the “season” of temptation resumed again? In Matthew we read:

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be unto you. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:21-23 KJ2000)

Peter was appealing to Jesus to do the reasonable thing! “Spare yourself, Lord! Don’t go up to die in Jerusalem. Think of all the good you can still do here in Galilee! You have people here that believe in you and need you!” But once again we see Jesus only doing the works that His Father gave Him to do. He recognized the words of Satan in Peter’s mouth, tempting Him to not go to the cross as His Father had destined Him to do so that He could fulfill all righteousness. Sparks continues,

In Him there was none of that which was personal, [or] independent. We are not speaking merely of such things as are sinfully personal, positively personal, but simply of independent action, action taken for the best ends, for a good motive, with quite a proper intention. Yes, all this may be done, but apart from the positive word from the Father. That creates an independent thought, however good may be the motive.*

And it is our independence from God in our words and our actions that is the devil’s playground. Paul wrote:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. (Galatians 5:16-17 RSVA)

Jesus said that if any one would be His disciple that they would have to take up their cross an follow Him. The cross in each of our lives that He gives us to carry is tailor made to put an end to our childish independence. When we were young in the Lord we ran out and did all kinds of “good works for Jesus.” But was our Father in them or did they come out from us as we tried to outguess God as to what His will for our lives would be? There is a death that must happen to that old foolish Adam in each one of us that seeks to maintain control even when doing “good works.” Old things must pass away and ALL things in us must become new. For this process to occur our Father wants to hear from our hearts just as Jesus prayed before they crucified Him, “Father, I would that this cup pass from me. But none the less, not my will, Father, but thine be done.” The cross He gives us to bare is our doorway into lives filled with His life giving Eternal Life. May we embrace it as an instrument of His Fatherly love for us. Amen.

* http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002218.html

It’s Time, But Are We Ready to Follow?

Recently, Susanne Schuberth posted an article on her blog about the kingdom of God and how we enter it. She wrote,

We only need His power of love and the rest will fall into its place. It is so simple, the kingdom of God: First He makes us see it and later He lets us enter. Eventually, when we have entered the Kingdom of God, He teaches all of us so that we can stop teaching each other.”

(https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god-about/)

As I read her words I was stunned at the simplicity of what she wrote. The photo at the head of the article was taken by her husband. She can see this church clock from her kitchen window in Germany. She calls it her “kitchen clock.” I was curious about the time he snapped the picture — 8:22. I felt led by the Lord to look up chapter 8, verse 22 in each of the four gospels and here is what I found:

 (St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

(St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

 

But Jesus said unto him, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. (Matthew 8:22-23 KJ2000)

And he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town… (Mark 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake”. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling up with water, and were in jeopardy. (Luke 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he said, “Where I go, you cannot come. And he said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:22-23 KJ2000)

I don’t believe there is a coincidence to anything when God is teaching and leading us. Susanne’s message was all about listening, obeying God’s voice and following Him in His kingdom. Isn’t it interesting that a random picture of a clock on a cathedral could be used by the Spirit to further the lesson she shared?

In these four passages we see divine movement and progress as people followed Christ, and stagnation and death when they did not. In the Matthew and Luke passages, we see Jesus telling the disciples to follow Him and leave their attachment to the world and even their natural families behind. So as a teaching point, He told them to enter a boat and launch out across a lake. And what happened when they obeyed? Everything went well, right? No, a great storm blew up and was about to sink their boat. Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the bottom of the boat as it was starting to fill with water, ignoring their plight! Sound familiar?

Even when we obey the Lord and try to follow Him wherever He leads us, it will not be an easy road. It can even become life threatening at times. There will be many extreme tests of faith required of us. But notice Jesus’ words to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father saying. Father did not say, “Let us go out into the middle of the lake and drown!” He was in perfect peace that they were going to reach the other side of the lake because that is what His Father commanded. God does not require us to do anything that He does not also give us the grace to accomplish, but there is usually a test in the process of obeying His will.

The whole boat ride was a divine setup to teach these men faith. After they woke Him up with their cries, He rebuked the storm into a flat calm and asked, “Where is your faith?” If we dare to leave all and follow Jesus, we will have our faith stretched. When this has happened, how many of us have said, “Did I hear Him correctly? I thought that if I obeyed His voice everything would be fine! But now, look at the mess He let me get into! I am not so sure I want to follow Jesus after all!” It is here that many falter. The test is too great for the depth of their commitment and they turn back. A nice spiritual boat ride on a sunny day was all they signed up for. Remember the parable of the four kinds of ground?

In the Mark passage we see Jesus take a blind man and lead him out of town so He could heal him. Again we see movement where faith is concerned. Isn’t this a curious thing? Why did Jesus have to lead him out of town so he could be made to see? Couldn’t Jesus heal him right where He stood? After seeking spiritual light, how many of us have been required to leave our comfort zones where we knew our way around (at least by feel)? God does that. He will always stir up our comfortable little lives if we are serious about following Him (see Deu. 32:10-12). Some of us had messed up lives before we realized that He was after us. He led me from the Sunday church system to go with Him outside the camp and bear the reproach that would go with it. He later gave me this passage to explain what happened.

“We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle… Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:10-13 KJ2000)

He took me outside the camps of Christendom so He could teach me how to hear His voice and give me spiritual sight. As long as I was listening to preachers that were not inspired by the Spirit in what they taught, though it was all familiar, I would rarely hear His voice and what He specifically had to say to me.

Again we see movement here in these passages. God requires progress and obedience. There is a cost attached to it, but the reward is spiritual sight. He leads us to an altar that those who insist on being taught by men have no access to. But remember, it’s when we boast and say that we see that we are blind. Humility always goes with true spiritual insight.

And finally in John 8:22, Jesus tells the religious leaders and their followers that where He goes, they cannot follow. “…you are of this world; I am not of this world.” Jesus is not of this world (He did not say earth, for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He said the kosmos – the world system under Satan). They were of their father the devil and destined to do his works.

If we are of Christ, we are from above, we are His sheep and we will follow the Good Shepherd wherever He goes because He loves us and we love Him. We hear His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers. As Susanne said, He leads us with His love for us. His love will never take us away from His kingdom, but always deeper into it and His heart. His love for us, as it is proven true, will always make our faith and hope in Him grow. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 RSVA)

The Crisis from Death to Life

Entering the Promised Land

Jesus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Photo by Susanne Schuberth)Jesus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
(Photo by Susanne Schuberth)

This life on earth provides joys and pains for everyone, whether we believe in God or not. However, if God has chosen to adopt us as His beloved children, we will experience an additional kind of suffering this world will never know. These pains that spring from taking up our cross daily in order to die to self are by no means an end in itself. As painful as such periods are, there is a goal ahead to which God will surely bring us.
As I was sitting at the hairdresser this morning, I would read several entries on “Dying to Self” on the internet. It dawned on me that only those who experienced such a process…

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The World System, Are Christians Its Citizens?

ChurchServiceNazisFor the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. (1 Corinthians 10:26 KJV)

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31 KJV)

Consider these two verses closely. The earth is the Lord’s, and in Genesis everything He created He declared as “good.” But is the world good and are we to be part of it? To answer this question we have to go to the Greek meanings of these two words.

gē (“earth”)

Thayer Definition:

1) arable land

2) the ground, the earth as a standing place

3) the main land as opposed to the sea or water

4) the earth as a whole

4a) the earth as opposed to the heavens

4b) the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals

Obviously this Greek word means the planet we call “Earth.” It is the Lord’s. Now how about this word that was translated world— this same world that is under the judgment of God that was translated from the Greek word kosmos?

kosmos

Thayer Definition:

6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ”

W.E. Vine defines kosmos as the “present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.” There is a teaching in many churches that we who are Christ’s have an obligation to support the country we are a citizen of. Yes, Jesus made it clear that we are to pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land… to a point. And here is the rub! Just what is that point, and at what point does obeying those laws make you disobedient to Christ who has purchased us with His blood?

As an example, take patriotism. This can be an evil deception when it calls for us who follow Christ as our Lord to murder our fellow man in the name of our national interests. Jesus was very clear about this when speaking to the Jews.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:43-48 RSVA)

What drummer will we march to? Will we obey all that our country requires us to do at the sacrifice of listening to the voice of God and doing what He requires of us in His kingdom as His children? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it plain that the Father loves all mankind, not just the ones that we agree with or that agree with Him. He links loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us to being God’s children! But He does not stop there. He goes on to relate such loving actions to the perfection of our heavenly Father in us, who makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon both the good and the evil. When the disciples wanted to wipe out a Samaritan village simply because they would not let Jesus and the disciples pass through, Jesus had an interesting reply,

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Luke 9:54-56 KJ2000)

Anne Lamott said, “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do.” When we get our patriotic and religious juices all worked up and are willing to take part in killing our fellow man, we do not know what spirit we are of. Jesus came to save the lost, not kill them! Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Beware of any murderous thoughts you are listening to because it is not God’s Spirit that is speaking in you.

When Peter and the apostles preached Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit on the days following Pentecost, the leaders of the Jews forbade them. To this Peter had one simple answer, “But answering them Peter and John said, Whether it is right before God to listen to you rather than God, you judge.”(Acts 4:19 LITV)

There is a higher Authority than secular humanistic governments that often are doing the will of the devil, the Prince of this world system. The kingdoms of men are becoming more and more anti-Christ by restricting Christian religious freedoms while promoting perversion and the murder of the innocent. The early church obeyed the Holy Spirit and it often cost them their lives. We can expect the same if we obey the Spirit and manifest Christ’s kingdom openly in this kosmos system. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world [kosmos] you have affliction. But courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 CLV)

Dominion Theology

“Dominion Theology is the idea that Christians should work toward either a nation governed by Christians or one governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.”- Wikipedia

Some preachers today are advocating that their members become active in the political arena. I do not see Jesus teaching any such thing. When Pilate during Christ’s trial asked of Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered succinctly, “My kingdom is not of this world…”

These same preachers point to a verse in Revelation they say gives Christians the authority to go out and take political dominion of our respective nations for God. They usually quote this part of a verse out of context, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.” Let’s look at it.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15-18 KJ2000)

Notice first that the setting of this passage is at the end of the age during the wrath of God. Second, it is God who takes to Himself the power over the peoples of the world, not Christians through political or military force. Let’s look at this word translated kingdom in this passage.

basileia
Thayer Definition:
1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule
1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom

As you can see, this is not about political kingdoms, but the right and authority to rule over the kingdom. Christ’s rule will be established over what was once the kosmos of Satan at the end of the age when God pours out His wrath. His rule has nothing to do human power or with national and political boundaries because it is a singular kingdom.

Jesus said:

“If the world [kosmos – in each case] hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20 RSVA)

My God, my Savior and those who are His are not of this kosmos or its worldly kingdoms, For our citizenship is in heaven; from which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20 KJ2000 – see also Gal. 4:26, Eph. 2:19 and Heb. 12:22).

God and Country? What Kingdom Are We of?

God and Country picI used to be a rabid right-wing supporter of Americanism and “God and Country” was my mantra. Looking back, I had put them on an equal plane in my thinking. I supported America getting involved in the Vietnam War “to save the world from communism.” After all, wasn’t atheistic communism the opposite of Christianity? But after spending three years fighting in that war I saw things a bit differently. What a farce! That war was all about trading the blood of our young men and women and exploiting another nation so huge multinational corporations with politicians in their pockets could make extortionist war profits, including the then President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson. The industrial-military complex that President Eisenhower had warned America about had taken over (see http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenhower-warns-of-military-industrial-complex).

For me the real lesson learned was not political in nature; quite the opposite. When I totally surrendered to Christ in 1970 after coming home from that war, I was born of the Spirit of God. I no longer was of this world system ruled over by the prince of this world (John 12:31-32). When Pilate asked Jesus why His people wanted Him executed, His answer is very instructive, “My kingdom is not of this world.” When we are born from above we become aliens to this world and citizens of God’s kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-11), not of the kingdoms of men. As such, our hearts are now His and are not entangled with the things of this world (2 Peter 2:20). Jesus was no more a Jewish patriot than He was a Roman citizen. He made it clear that He only did what He saw His Father doing. He got His direction from a Source higher than even the Jewish law and those enforcing it, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. This is why they hated Him! He was not subject to their control. His kingdom was not theirs, since they were of their father the devil and they did what he wanted, just as Jesus said they would (John 8:42-59). His blood was on their hands as a result (Matt. 27:15-25). Jesus told His disciples that as they walked by the Spirit as He did, they could expect the same treatment He got.

Christians, real Christians, need to realize what kingdom they are of and whose voice they follow. For the first 300 years, the early Christians were martyred wholesale because they would not swear allegiance to Caesar. They counted it joy to be persecuted in the name of Christ and His kingdom. How many of us Christians today are sold out to Him like that? Daniel saw it coming when he saw the image of a man depicting the world kingdoms whose feet were a mixture of clay and iron. The scripture makes it clear that iron represented the Roman Empire because the legs of the statue he saw were iron (see Daniel ch. 2). It also makes it clear that God is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). What is clay doing mixed with iron? The churches of the world system today are still an unholy mixture of God’s people adhering to governments that descended from ancient Rome—the empire that incorporated Christianity into its pantheon of paganism to solidify its power. Yes, Emperor Constantine stopped the persecution of the Church, but he also killed its loyalty to Christ with an embrace that smothered God’s Spirit life right out of her and became the final word in all things pertaining to Christianity. The Church has been subservient to world rulers ever since.

“In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because AS HE IS SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD.” (1 John 4:17 RSVA – emphasis added)

“Father, please show us our hearts and just what spirit we are governed by who claim Christ as our Lord. Amen.”