A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Inheritance in the Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inheritance in the Kingdom. Show all posts

February 12, 2024

What Does the Bible Have to Say About God's Bema Seat Judgment?

I am walking in a new season of revelation from God's Word. In my flesh, I have to fight the temptation to become lax in my time in the Bible. I never want to think that I've "arrived"; that I understand the fullness of God and who His Word says He is. And, it's not that I think I know it all, but when Mark and I get overwhelmed with our businesses, aging parents, and yes, even our ministry, it seems as if there's not enough hours in the day to devote as much time as we know we need to in order to dive deep into the Good Book. Sadly, I think we both feel if we can just spend a day getting caught up, we'll get back into our daily study time. But one day turns into two and can turn into a week, as the distractions of the world seem to take control. And my spirit can definitely feel weary and without strength.

So, it has been with great intention that we have decided to get back into our first love --  a dedicated time each morning of deep study and relationship with our Father and Jesus. We have renewed our spirits to the fire that burned in us when He first called us to His service. Holy Spirit is quickened and the power and authority in our walk begins to flow again. And over the next few posts I'd like to share some Godly feedback that we've received, with the hope that it will exhort and encourage you to grow in your own relationship with the Godhead through the Word.

The first confirmation my spirit has received is centered around God's Judgment -- even of the Body of Christ, and what that looks like. I have long been aware that the modern Church is focused on God's Grace and has relegated God's Judgment to the Old Testament. "After all", say the seminaries who have taught recent generations of pastors, "the rebellious Israelites didn't have the New Covenant and weren't covered by the Blood of Jesus, so, in their sin, they experienced God's righteous judgment".  

Never mind the reality that our rebellion and unrighteousness matches anything they did, and that our God is the same today as He was yesterday, which means we deserve and will receive His judgment as well. But we are unwilling to discern that God's Character has not changed, instead choosing to receive only what tickles our ears and feels more comfortable in our minds and hearts. Have we forgotten Hebrews 4:12? Do we not remember that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, separating soul [mind, emotions, and will] from spirit; joints and marrow; and discerning the intentions of the heart? Both God's Grace and His Judgment are just as relevant today as it was to the early Israelites. To ignore His Judgment is to act foolishly. Let us consider the first of God's pronounced Biblical Judgments that we can expect as we near Christ's return...

Bema Seat Judgment. First, let's establish that this is what is considered the Judgment seat of Christ. The word Bema in Greek means "raised up" and refers to the official seat of a judge that has been raised up. We can see it referred to in Matthew 27:19, when Jesus is taken to Pilate to be judged. Scripture says, "while he [Pilate] was seated on the judgment bench, his wife sent him a message, saying, Have nothing to do with that just and upright man, for I have had a painful experience today because of a dream I had of Him". The Bema seat is in view in Acts when Herod, Gallio, and Festus occupy it, as well.     

So, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, we see the official judgment seat of Christ and how it will play an important part in our life:  "For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]".

So, I want to establish right now that the Bema seat of Christ is for Believers only! It is not a question of Salvation! If you are standing at the Bema seat of Christ, your salvation is not in question. As Believers, we will all have received the promise that our sins are forgiven and He will remember them no more. The Bema seat is a judgment seat, where a Believer's life and works [since becoming a Christian] will be weighed and tested by fire. Our lives will be brought before the Lord in the light of that refiner's fire, and we will receive the rewards that have been stored up for us in Heaven, IF we are found worthy to receive them. I want you to reflect on this sober pronouncement and meditate on what the Scripture reveals on this matter ...

In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul puts forth the argument that like a skillful architect and master builder, he has carried out his assignment from the Lord to lay a foundation upon which a man can build his life, i.e., his faith and obedience to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Paul teaches, " But let each man be careful how he builds upon it, for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw ... the work of each one will become openly known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. 

If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives the test, he will get his reward. But if any person's work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss of it all, [losing his reward that was stored up for him], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire".    

In other words, all Believers have an inheritance awaiting them at the coming of Christ. We will receive those rewards and crowns based on what we did with our Christian life; what fruit did we produce for the Kingdom of God after we received our free gift of Salvation? Jesus will test what we have built on the foundation of our faith. Will it be burned up as hay or straw, leaving no trace of our works for the Kingdom? Or will they be found still intact as gold and silver survive a refiner's fire? HEAR ME! Your salvation is not threatened! And I am not talking about works for your salvation! There are no works you can do for that free gift!  These are the works we long to do to expand the Kingdom Christ left in our care when He ascended to Heaven. Even if one loses his inheritance [for lack of works that glorify Christ], he cannot lose his salvation!

Paul is speaking of the rewards and crowns for our faithfulness to Christ; what will be entrusted to us in Heaven as we are chosen to rule and reign with Him. I believe some of the areas of judgment will include how we treated others; how we employed our God-given abilities and assignments; how we used our money and spent our time; how we ran the particular race that God has chosen for us, and how many souls did we witness to and win for Christ? You see, Christ's gift of Salvation [and what it cost Him] is deserving of our efforts to continue His work on the earth to show His Glory and Majesty. We aren't to accept our salvation and then do nothing. We are made in His image with the assignment to represent Him and His Nature in this dark world. That means we "Go" and we "Do" as He did! 

And that is why Mark and I consistently say we want to hear Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant", when we stand before Him. And I do not believe it is prideful to say that we want to receive all the inheritance stored up for us -- and we want you to receive your rewards and crowns, too! And as we stand before our Holy and Righteous Lord, we will be so grateful for what He has done in our lives, that we will be eager to lay everything we've received at His feet, to honor and glorify Him! So, while it is a sobering thought to consider the Bema Seat Judgment, set your heart and spirit on bearing fruit for Him and His Kingdom, and look forward to seeing what is left in the midst of that fire of judgment!

Next post: the Great White Throne Judgment

Romans 14:10-12.   Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God". So then each of will give an account of himself to God. 

#bemaseatjudgment #judgmentseatofChrist #graceversusjudgment #therefinersfire #rewardsandcrownsinheaven #heavenlyinheritance #ourGodjudges #biblicaljudgments 


October 15, 2022

Sermon On The Mount ... From A Different Perspective

I love how the Lord continues to peel back layers of His Word that reveal new understandings of what He is teaching us about His character; about what He has purposed for our lives; and the reality of what the Kingdom really looks like. He allows me to build upon each new revelation -- not discarding the old understanding, but expanding it to include new perspectives, as He moves me to a new position and a fresh frame of reference.

This time it came through my intense study of The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the valiant Lutheran pastor who lived in Germany during the Third Reich, and who took seriously Jesus' call to "take up your cross". Bonhoeffer was fearlessly outspoken against Hitler's Nazi regime and he paid the cost as a martyr for Christ. His book, The Cost of Discipleship, has proven to compliment Scripture in both Truth and Spirit, and caused me to examine familiar Biblical concepts with new eyes and a renewed heart.

For example, the Beatitudes, a portion of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, have long been a subject of study for me. Ever since 20 years ago, when I sat in a Sunday School class and the teacher [who was also a pastor at the church] admitted that the Beatitudes have long been a struggle for the Church to explain, I was determined that I would make a sincere effort to comprehend their meaning. After all, how could such an important theological standard of the Church be a mystery or enigma?

My first "aha" moment came when I came to believe that the Sermon on the Mount was presented in the context of being the Constitution, if you will, of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is speaking to a multitude of people, including His Disciples, telling the crowd that the Ten Commandments serve as the Law on earth, but there is a higher concept of the Torah that portrays all that God expects and provides for those who yield to Him. And when we understand that Jesus is speaking to Jews, who greatly revere the Law and Scriptures, one can only imagine what they are thinking! Jesus is speaking of a new paradigm of faith! Jesus reveals that God offers promises of power to fulfill all that He asks of us. In this important Sermon, Jesus puts the emphasis on the inward transformation of our hearts by the grace of God, rather than the outward duty to obey the Law. Jesus is telling all of us that God's Kingdom is available to those who will learn His ways and offer ourselves to Him in full surrender.

And this is where another layer of the Bible has been revealed to me. In light of the previous blog post regarding Discipleship, I now see that to be a Disciple of Christ involves being separated from the world; giving up all we have in the world as we surrender to His will to follow Him, fully and radically. And now I recognize in a chapter of The Cost of Discipleship, that there is another layer ready to be unveiled. Pastor Bonhoeffer paints this picture of Matthew 5:1-12 ... it includes Jesus on the mountain, the multitudes, and the disciples. As he so eloquently explains, The people see Jesus with His Disciples, a group of men who used to be just like them. The Disciples see the people, from whom they've just come. And now they identify as the elect people of God. BUT Jesus sees His Disciples! 

As was established in the previous post, these men have separated from the world; they are isolated with their Master, the Good Shepherd, who has come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They left their homes and families to follow Him, and that's what now makes them different from their fellow Jews. As Bonhoeffer writes, "Now they are living in want, and privation, the poorest of the poor, the sorest afflicted, and the hungriest of the hungry. They have only Him, and with Him they have nothing, literally nothing in the world, but everything with and through God". [NOTE: We Christians in the 21st Century, profess that we live and experience "everything with and through God", yet very few are living in want, poor, afflicted, hungry, or have fully surrendered ALL to Him. Would He recognize us as His Disciples, if He came back today?]

It is from that perspective that I now understand that when Jesus delivers His sermon on the side of that mountain, He is holding up His Disciples to the crowd as men who have rightly answered the call of God. He calls them Blessed in the hearing of every man, woman, and child in attendance that day. That word "Blessed" had profound meaning to the multitudes of Jews who were gathered there that day. In the Jewish culture, blessed means an increase. It's an increase of God's Presence and His Favor. It is the experiential knowledge of God [as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] moving in His power and strength to destroy our enemies and overcome our human reasoning and insufficiency. And Jesus is about to bestow that recognition on the Twelve, in the midst of the multitude.

The crowd now stands as a witness that these men are to receive the promises of God to Israel because they have obeyed the call of Jesus. And now that same promise is offered to the crowd, as heirs of the promise. Will the crowd understand that He is about to show them the stature of the Disciples before God? Will they believe in Jesus and surrender their all to follow Him? In His Sermon, He shows the crowd how these men, who until recently, had been just like them, now share in a new and distinct way of life... Theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. In that day, just as today, wealth was measured by your place in society; what you owned, your position of power, your status and influence. But Jesus points to the Twelve, who have no possessions, no homes, no power [either spiritual or material]. They have lost all they ever had, for His sake. Now they are poor in the spirit [of what poverty looks like]; poor in the ways the world defines poor, but they are rich in the promises that they will one day see the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus calls them blessed. They are what the heirs of the kingdom look like!

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Jesus is now widening the gulf between His Disciples and the rest of the crowd. As the Twelve embrace His call on their lives, they begin to mourn for the world -- they mourn for all that the world idolizes and covets; for its fate, and for the judgment that is coming upon it. And that renders them strangers to the world. Their only comfort -- but what an astounding consolation it is! -- comes from the Comforter, Himself. They are beginning to see that their true home is not the world, but with their crucified Lord, and they look forward to spending eternity with Him!

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. In the ancient world, to be powerless and marginalized was to be weak and defeated. Yet the 12 Disciples would renounce their own rights for the sake of Jesus Christ. They would hold their peace when confronted; endure all hostility and violence; yield ground when men drove them out of the city square. They claim no citizen's rights for themselves. And this goes against all human tendencies or dispositions. Yet, Jesus says, They will inherit the earth. They will take the message of Christ across the globe, and it will spread until Jesus returns, renewing the earth, and the meek [who look like these Disciples] will possess it.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. As the Disciples continue on their journey with Jesus and begin to understand what He is teaching them, they are privileged to discern the righteousness that Jesus calls them to, and they can distinguish it from the sin of the world. They actually renounce the thought of their own righteousness because the example of Jesus as perfect righteousness reminds them they are still of the world. But they hunger for the day that He promises; the day when the earth will experience forgiveness of all sin, when both they and the world will be renewed, and the day when the fullness of the Kingdom is experienced as Jesus fulfills the Law and the prophecies. At this time they hunger and thirst for the Messianic Kingdom, even as Jesus offers Himself as their bread of life and living water.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Before the crowd, Jesus honors His Disciples by calling them merciful. These twelve men, who had not much to begin with, were willing to give up everything else they had to follow Jesus. And as they learn from Him, they are now willing to give up the last of their personal dignity and honor. Like Jesus, they are learning to identify with the downtrodden and the outcasts. They will actually seek them out in order to give them mercy and comfort. They recognize that Jesus chose them out of His own mercy for them; for they were among the wretched sinners of the world when He called them. And because of that awareness, they are now able to offer mercy to others. They believe that one day, in His Mercy, God will clothe them in honor and dignity as His heirs. Yes, blessed are those that are merciful, because they walk in the image of the Merciful One, Jesus Christ.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Jesus makes sure the crowd understands that it is the condition of their hearts that He is interested in. He seeks those whose hearts are pure because they have surrendered to Him. Among the multitudes that are present, only the Disciples fit that description. Because these Twelve left everything and everyone in their lives to follow Jesus in an almost child-like trust, their hearts are open to relying solely on Jesus. They no longer look to the world to fulfill their desires and plans, but are focused solely on Him as their Answer. They stand in stark contrast to everyone else that was present that day. Others sought Jesus for a day as a temporary "fix", but the Disciples were wholly committed to a life focused on becoming more like Him. Their hearts were being purified, and Jesus announces that they will have the privilege of seeing God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. This must have been a hard pill to swallow for the Jews in attendance that day; and I imagine a difficult truth to walk out for the Disciples, as well. As Jews, theirs was a history of domination by various empires, and they were now under the thumb of Roman rule. They longed for the fulfillment of the prophecy that God would send the Messiah to overcome and defeat their enemies. Yet here is Jesus, training the Disciples [and telling the crowd] that even in the midst of subjugation they can have peace in Him. And not only that, but they are to seek peace and make peace -- even in the midst of violence against them. Jesus has been teaching His Disciples that He was sent to reconcile men back to a relationship with their God. And God wants to establish His Kingdom on earth through peaceful means. That is in stark contrast to the world and a message that even the Disciples struggle to accept. But they have been called to partner with Jesus in establishing this reconciliation in peace. By that partnership, God will know them as His sons, just as Jesus is the Son of God.

Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now, the Jews are no strangers to persecution; it has been their lot for centuries. Jesus is holding up the Twelve before the crowd as examples of those who are blessed and will know the increase of God's Presence and Favor; who will know His power and strength to overcome their Enemies. BUT, this is about persecution for the sake of righteousness. Persecution comes not for God's righteousness, but the suffering they will endure in pursuit of a just cause. Their message and works will offend the world because they deny them their idols. The Disciples' very confession of Jesus's Name is enough to bring oppression and hostility from any and all who stand in opposition to the Kingdom. But Jesus establishes that they will not only be Blessed, but will receive the Kingdom of Heaven... making them equals to the poor in spirit. 

It is not lost on me that the last Blessing Jesus gives His followers is the one of persecution. It points back to Him. It will be their testimony as the poor and suffering, the meek and merciful, the sympathetic and tolerant, that brings them into authentic fellowship with Jesus. Like Jesus, they will appear as strangers to the world. And although Jesus calls them Blessed, the world will call for their removal from the world. But they will follow Jesus all the way to the Cross, and then on to the Kingdom of Heaven! 

This is a perspective that gives me clarity and courage. If I am to be hopeful of walking out my time on earth as a Disciple of Christ, then Jesus has set out a clear path. To receive His blessing of living out eternity in the Presence and Favor of Almighty God in His Kingdom of Heaven, I must live my life as a stranger to this world. But He also makes it clear [in perhaps one of the most famous sermons in history] that I can meet none of His requirements out of my own behavior. It is the call and promise of Jesus alone that makes it possible! 

I would love to know how many of those present on the mountain that day grasped the gravity of His message. How many looked at the Disciples and thought, "They look and sound like me, but there's something different about them. This celebrated teacher, Jesus, is so attractive to me, yet He talks of things these 12 men will endure -- things I don't want to experience. What about Him makes it all worthwhile for them? He offers nothing that this world values, yet promises a future with God in a heavenly kingdom. Do I dare take the chance and give up all I have and know for a promise I can't see"? My friends, that's the same question we are presented with today! 

This perspective on the Beatitudes is sobering and straightforward. But it is just as consequential today as it was 2000 years ago when a multitude of Jewish men, women, and children gathered to hear this Famed Teacher who drew crowds from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. He had the capacity to change their lives for eternity. How many left that day transformed? How many will allow Him to transform them today? 

#sermononthemount #thebeatitudes #blessedarethepoor #jesusdisciples #thetwelvedisciples

Matthew 19:28    Jesus said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, in the renewal [that is, the Messianic restoration and regeneration of all things] when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you [who have followed Me, becoming My disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

October 22, 2021

The Transhumanist Agenda: A Very Real Threat To Our Eternal Destiny!


I have so many points I'm discerning the Holy Spirit wants to make, that I don't even know where to begin! This is a topic that I'm pretty certain the mainstream Church is not even cognizant of; and those Christians who think the answer lies in politics or the next Great Awakening are not even considering. It will be labeled as conspiracy or radical, and most likely ignored. But my spirit is screaming that we do so at the risk of humanity's demise!

There are so many angles that I need to approach in sharing the revelations I am receiving that I want to make sure I present it in a coherent manner. I guess the best place to start is with Jesus's statement about what the End Times will look like: For the coming of the Son of Man (the Messiah) will be just like the days of Noah. If you don't know what those days represent, then I first suggest you read Genesis 6 in the Bible, and then you can read a blog post I wrote in 2014 that puts it in perspective for today. In 2014 my spirit was just receiving the revelation of a philosophical movement known as transhumanism, and the implications for our lives here on earth and for eternity. 

In February of 2014, I had just become aware of an organization called the International Global Future Congress 2045 and the meeting they had held the summer before. At the time, the website for GF2045 stated that their focus was "a discussion of a new evolutionary strategy for humanity aimed at overcoming the 21st century’s civilization challenges. The strategy is based on carrying out two revolutions: spiritual and sci-tech. We believe this is the only way to overcome existing crises." My spirit was immediately triggered by the words "evolutionary strategy" and wondered how God fit into this scenario. The website was quick to answer that question: "At the congress, a vision will be presented for the spiritual transformation of humanity, and new technologies will be demonstrated which are likely to form the basis of the sci-tech revolution. The congress will also showcase our Avatar science mega-project, aimed at accelerating the creation of technologies enabling a gradual transition from our biological bodies to an increasingly advanced artificial carrier of the human self."

That's a "scientific" way of saying that we would be transitioned from being made in the image of God to an "artificial carrier" of His original design. If there is anything you can point to that Satan would be involved in, it would be artificial, counterfeit, and corrupted. And if your own spirit hasn't started to sound off warning bells, consider this statement: "The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of an individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society."  Need anymore convincing that mankind has finally arrived at that point in history that Jesus prophesied?

Just as Satan's dark angels attempted to change the DNA of man from God's design to a perverted version of a fallen angel/human hybrid, [as disclosed in Genesis 6], it seems that Satan has come up with a new plan, and enlisted the help of some of the most brilliant scientific and technological minds of our age. Satan's goal has always been to usurp man's authority on the earth. Having spoiled his own destiny in Heaven through his arrogance and pride, and finding himself exiled to earth, he thought at least he could establish and rule his own kingdom down here without any interference from God. But he didn't count on God creating Adam in His image and giving humans the position of ruling the earth. So he hatched his plot to tempt and ensnare Adam and Eve to rebel against God, thereby wresting their dominion and authority to rule the earth away from them. And he influenced the "Watchers" to leave their heavenly abode and mate with human women, in the hopes of evolving a new species of being that could depose God's divine order of creation.

Fast forward to 2021. An article by Joe Allen at thefederalist.com, points out that there was a conference of transhumanists held last weekend in Madrid, Spain. It wasn't hard to denote its kinship to the Global Future Congress 2045. This article posited that TransVision 2021 promoted the tech theology "that there is no God but the future Computer God. They believe neuroprosthetics will allow communion with this artificial deity. They believe robot companions should be normalized. They believe longevity tech will confer approximate immortality. They believe virtual reality provides a life worth living. Above all, they believe the Singularity is near." And if you are unfamiliar with that term, let me put it in layman's terms ... "The Singularity" is the belief system that humans will transcend their God-given biology to merge with machines. God help us!

The founder of this theory, Ray Kurzweil [former Google engineer], has this to say about the Singularity: it is "a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. The Singularity will represent the culmination of the merger of our biological thinking and existence with our technology, resulting in a world that is still human but that transcends our biological roots. There will be no distinction, post-singularity, between human and machine nor between physical and virtual reality." Notice that there is no mention of the human spirit. His predictions are summed up with this chilling statement: Human life will be irreversibly transformed.

So, here is what I am fervently praying for the Body of Christ to understand -- you may not see the similarity between the narrative in Genesis 6 and what the Global Future Congress 2045 and TransVision 2021 are promoting, but they are the same agenda! Satan lost his battle to keep man from being Saved by Jesus's act of going to the Cross. And that cost him his hope of complete sovereignty and dominion over the earth. Jesus defied Death, and His resurrection is now our promise that we not only don't have to submit to the rulership of Satan on the earth during this lifetime, but it is the promise of our victory in the next life; a new spiritual life with Jesus; ruling and reigning for all eternity.

But Satan isn't giving up that easy! His ploy to use corrupted DNA [to keep Jesus from being the perfect atonement for our sins] may have failed, but now he's got a plan that could deny us eternal life. If the human race decides to exchange our spiritual and eternal inheritance in Heaven for technological immortality here on earth, then God will no longer recognize us as His son or daughter. Those who lead us down that path despise God and our relationship with the One who created us in His image. [Sounds a lot like the mindset of Satan when he tempted Adam and Eve, doesn't it]? They suggest that we can live forever without God, and in turn "become our own gods" through enhanced cyber intelligence. But the results of that wicked endeavor will be no different from "as it was in the days of Noah".

Just as God sent The Flood to wipe out the evil plans of the dark angels to corrupt the biology of His creation, so will He stop this perverted assault on our biological design in the 21st Century. The Body of Christ is waking up to the covert efforts to transform us into something we were never meant to be. We recognize that Science has not replaced God. But there are still far too many Christians who will allow the spirit of fear to coerce them into a decision that will bear grave consequences for their eternal future. The advancements in Neuroengineering, Brain-Computer interfaces, and Cypernetic immortality are truly terrifying! And I honestly don't know for how much longer we will have the liberty of making a free-will choice. But for me, I will pass on the new bio-technology, and wait for Jesus's return. I choose eternal life in my glorified body. The last thing I want to hear my Lord and Savior say is, "I don't recognize you!"

Isaiah 43:10-11     ".... Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me.  I, I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior."




May 11, 2021

From Justification to Sanctification to Glorification: Do You Understand The Process?


I do not ask the question posed in this blog title to be sarcastic or mocking. I truly mean it as a legitimate question. If we, as the Body of Christ, do not rightly understand the process we can be in serious jeopardy of missing out on our inheritance in Heaven because we did not achieve the fullness of our salvation experience. I know that is a controversial statement to many Christians, but allow me to amplify what I am trying to say...

Those words .... justification, sanctification, and glorification .... are biblical doctrines that are important to our understanding of God's plan of redemption for man. But I would hazard a guess that if you asked Christians to explain their significance, only a handful would be able to give us a concise definition. And how many would truly understand how these doctrines are manifested in a believer's journey? I will be honest and tell you that for the longest time when I was a new Christian, I never heard anyone in my church adequately explain these terms. They got preached in sermons, and Sunday School teachers certainly used them a lot, but usually in the accepted abbreviated definitions: God sees me "just as if" I'd never sinned (justification); I am "set apart for a purpose" unto God (sanctification); and "Giving honor and praise to God" and "the final removal of our sin at the Rapture" (glorification). But none of it told me about the process of how I was to live my life once I "got saved".

The entirety of the Bible, from Exodus to Revelation, presents us with many examples of these important principles of our faith. But do we see them as the ingredients, if you will, that result in the fullness of our salvation, which is the intention of their existence? I believe God wants us to see the "big picture" of who He is, who we are meant to be, and the journey this life must take us on to achieve what was written in our Book of Life from the foundation of the world. 

If I may, I'd like to try to begin expanding our understanding of these fundamental concepts by giving you an illustration of them, and then I'll build on that. Before we can be justified, we must answer the call of God on our life. So, for example, in the Old Testament, the 12 tribes of Israel had continuously rebelled against their God and their sins culminated in bondage and slavery. We can see justification as the calling of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the coming under the blood of the Passover lamb, and passing through the Red Sea [as a type of baptism]. This transaction between God and the nation of Israel resulted because Israel trusted God to deliver them into the Promised Land. Their agreement to trust and follow YHWH made them acceptable in His sight. We, in the New Covenant, engage in a spiritual transaction where God declares that those who trust in Christ and what He has done for them on the Cross are counted as acceptable before Him.

Glorification would be the picture of the Israelites finally passing through the Jordan River and Moses receiving the instruction to allot the land to the tribes as their inheritance. "And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for a heritage: I am the Lord" (Exodus 6:8). They received the promise that God pledged to them. Our glorification will be realized when we receive our inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom; after finishing our life on earth, we will stand before the Lord and receive our rewards for how we represented Him, and what we did in His Name; all during our sanctification journey and the process of our salvation.

And that brings me to the heart of of this blog. I think it is very crucial that we understand the part sanctification plays between justification and our ultimate glorification. Think of it this way: Israel did not immediately go into the Promised Land and receive their inheritance after escaping slavery and crossing the Red Sea. It took them 40 long years of being coached and disciplined by God, with a lot of episodes of back-sliding. The concept of sanctification unto salvation did not exist in the Old Testament as it does in our New Testament covenant. Yes, Israel was, and still is, God's Chosen people; called to lead the rest of the world to Him. But God did not send the Holy Spirit to live in them so that they could be convicted of their sin and be forgiven for eternity. Instead, their experiences are left to us as a record in the Bible, so that we might understand the purpose of God, be humbled to learn from their mistakes, and come to understand the need for Jesus to come as the Son of God, to offer permanent salvation by His blood, not the blood of animal sacrifices. NOTE: Please understand that there will be a remnant of that ancient Israel, gathered from the four corners of the earth in these End Times, who will be the ones to declare praise and honor and glory for YHWH to the world. They will be justified, sanctified, and glorified; receiving their eternal inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom! Praise, Jesus!

Here is what I want to present to you for your consideration: There is a lot that needs to happen between that time we profess faith in Jesus as our Savior, and we die and go to Heaven. Yes, we are pronounced "Saved", but can you discern that Salvation is not a "one and done"? Salvation is a journey and a destination. There is a process that is meant to yield a fullness in our salvation experience. It begins with answering the call on your life, and professing with your mouth that Jesus is your Savior. That's the first step in your salvation process. Then we receive the Holy Spirit and the sanctification process begins -- we are now to look different from the world; and that involves us setting ourselves apart by learning what God desires of us in order to see His will done in our lives, and on the earth. So, that means discerning His Truth -- not the world's, and not our own. To do that we must earnestly study HIM, and that comes from studying His Word. We must all begin our walk of growing into the image of God in order to correctly discern what He desires of us. 

Remember, the Israelites spent 40 years on their walk of trying to be what God wanted them to be. For me, I believe the process of my sanctified walk will continue until I am face-to-face with Jesus. Each of our walks will look different as Jesus and Holy Spirit guide us. Some will back-slide like the Israelites, but regain their path. Others will grasp God's Truth and see His plan for their lives quicker and with more clarity than I do. But as long as we stay committed and obedient to doing God's will, we will cross the finish line at our appointed time. 

We should all endeavor to be like the Wise Virgins in the Parable, keeping filled with the Holy Spirit and being prepared for Jesus's return at any moment. It was the Wise Virgins who got to experience the fullness of their sanctification-to-salvation journey and enter the Wedding Feast. It's not that the Foolish Virgins weren't saved. They were part of the wedding party, invited to enjoy all of the festivities, but they missed out on the full experience of partying with the Bridegroom and His bride. They were at the wedding [as Saved guests], but there was more to experience and they did not receive the fullness of all that their salvation journey afforded them.

So, what is required of us to receive this "fullness" that I keep emphasizing? It is really simple. In the Bible, Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:15-16). Every commandment written in the Bible is meant for us to obey. If we choose to obey only the ones that are easy, or the ones that suit our personality, or the ones our Church tells us are "the really important ones", then Jesus won't ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us the Truth of those commandments we chose to ignore. We won't understand the command and will miss out on valuable Truth. Our walk will suffer. We are still "born again" and "Saved", but it will be more difficult to look like Jesus, who obeyed every commandment of His Father. We will still be part of God's Family and enter the Kingdom at Jesus's return. But our walk of sanctification will determine our standing in the Kingdom, as we move from sanctification to glorification. That is the substance of what sanctification is all about.

Every Christian should be aware that when Jesus returns, He is bringing rewards with Him. And our chances of receiving rewards depends on our walk during the sanctification process. Did we grow and mature into the image of Christ? Were we willing to die unto self in order to live in Him? Were we willing to give up everything in this world [including earthly possessions and relationships] to gain everything in the next world? You know those verses about "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"? They don't always mean "hell". That will be the state of those who stand before Jesus and realize they lost rewards in the Millennial Kingdom because they could have done more in their sanctification walk. There will be disappointment that others are given roles of authority to rule and reign with Christ. Who won't want to be part of the saints who are closest to the Lord? 

However, it's not just our inheritance that depends on our walk of sanctification. As we end that journey, we enter into the full magnitude of our salvation experience; our glorification as we are resurrected into a new immortal body. We will stand together, praising and worshiping our Great God, in bodies that look like Jesus's glorified body. Our glorification, in turn, glorifies Elohim! How much we reflect the righteousness of Christ in our physical lives will be in direct proportion to the level of glory and inheritance we receive in the Kingdom -- and it is all the result of our sanctification process as we reach towards the fullness of our salvation experience. That is our hope of eternal glory, and a goal that every Christian should be working towards. 

Yes, I said "work towards".  And, yes, Salvation is not earned, but our faith in the justification, sanctification, and glorification precepts of Salvation [which result in inheritance, rewards, and greater measures of glory] depend on the work we do for the Kingdom while in this life. It is at that point that we will truly realize the fullness of all that our Salvation provides us. It is almost more than I can imagine or hope for! What opportunities are afforded to us as children of God!

Ephesians 3:19    ... and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].


October 13, 2020

Work Out Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling!


We live in perilous times; not only physically but spiritually. We see the violence in the streets and there is an atmosphere of anxiety and fear regarding our national future. What we are experiencing today as Americans supersedes even the trauma of 9/11. But as Christians, we are to stay firm in following the principles of the Kingdom of God and persevere through whatever is coming. The Bible is clear when it says that in the last days, perilous times will come. We are living in perilous times. This year, in addition to the Covid-19 virus, we are still engaged in never-ending wars; battling the threats of more diseases; experienced a record-breaking hurricane season; the threat of devastating earthquakes along the New Madrid fault line, civil unrest in our cities, and more. This is a dangerous world. 

But as Christians, we are to endure by following the principles set forth by our Savior.  And it is to my fellow Christians that I want to address this post; to those who have answered His call and profess faith in Him as their Savior.  Of course, we must understand that faith comes in degrees as we journey through our salvation process; not everyone is equal in living out their faith, although Jesus will accept each one of us on an equal basis -- all are welcome in His Kingdom. But we each must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for we must one day answer our Lord for the decisions we have made. And it goes without saying that there is disparity among the faithful in how we are living out our salvation experience.

Take the Presidential election for example. There is a definite and deliberate choice between the two candidates on just the issue of abortion. How will you explain your decision to vote for a pro-abortion candidate which effects the lives of millions of unborn babies? Immediately, Matthew 7:13-14 comes to mind: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Jesus is talking to everyone -- including self-professed Christians. As I see the world spiraling out of control, I sense our Lord speaking these words as a dire warning to all who would hear.

I fear that so many Christians in America dismiss this passage; thinking that it pertains to the lost. They think that Jesus is saying it is a narrow gate that leads to salvation, and only Christians will enter it.  The lost of the world will take the broad path because it is easier, more attractive and less demanding.  And in the broadest sense, they are correct.  There are only two choices:  right and wrong; good and evil; the way to heaven or the road to hell.  There is no middle ground.  You either choose Jesus or you don't.

But I believe He is telling us so much more in this discourse.  I believe He is talking directly to Christians and admonishing them to take their faith seriously.  Yes, the gate is narrow because accepting Christ as your Savior should not be taken lightly.  You must truly become a new person with a new heart and a new spirit; old desires must be purged and a new life begun. And that means your new life must be reflected in all you do and say. You cannot say that you are a follower of Christ, and support anyone, Presidential candidate or not, who agrees with abortion. That is being double-minded. And the Bible says this about that state of mind: the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

I do not believe this refers to losing one's salvation, but instead to a loss of inheritance and rewards when we stand at the Bema Seat Judgment. And I think it is fair to say that it is not easy to be a Christian. But, again, I say there is no middle ground. We must be prepared to be called extremists and religious fanatics. In fact, our very faith itself, will be a target as we are accused of being against "women's rights". But our faith is centered on maturing into the fullness of the image of Christ, and agreeing with abortion in any way or manner, would never be an acceptable choice for our King or a Kingdom citizen.

At the same time, I want to be perfectly clear that our Lord sacrificed Himself to pay for the sins of each one of us -- including those who have partaken in the act of abortion. We must never be deceived by a "religious spirit" that would have us think we have the authority to condemn anyone who made that choice. I believe it is our duty as Christians to help people see the sin in their lives and offer them a way to get right with God and be washed clean of their sins, transgressions, and iniquity. In our Inner Healing Ministry, my husband and I have personally witnessed Jesus offering forgiveness to women (and men) who have made the decision to abort a life. That act has been a stumbling block in their Christian life and a very effective tool for the devil to keep them in bondage. Mind you, Jesus will never accept or approve of their decision, but when, in the spirit, they encounter Jesus and repent for their sin, He forgives them and assures them their child is in His safe-keeping. He absolutely hates the sin, but will always accept the repentant sinner.

But I am also really confused about the whole movement among Christian Millennials, especially women, who call themselves "Christian feminists", who support legal abortion. I don't understand arguments that make abortion a "healthcare issue", or that interpret "freedom in Christ" as the freedom to make choices about their own bodies, which is expressed in the perplexing terminology, "bodily autonomy". One female pastor, who supports the right to abortion, explained it this way ... "because I value life, and I believe Jesus values life—I value the choices that give us the type of life that we need." Do you, as a Christian woman, really need an abortion? Or do you simply want one so it doesn't infringe on your independence and self-determination, which is the definition of autonomy?

This same female pastor quoted 1 Corinthians 6:19, but only partially, and said this: "When people talk about 'Our body is a temple of God, and holy,' I see that as I have the right to choices over my body, and the freedom to make the decisions that are right for me." Oh, how I wish she had read and quoted the entire passage which reads like this: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." How does your decision to allow God's creation to be willfully killed glorify God in your body? [If you would like to read the entire interview with this pastor, please click here].

That type of thinking is exactly why Christians should work out their salvation with fear and trembling! Our decisions in life should never be made from how it makes us feel. What we "feel" is injustice does not give us ultimate authority in a matter. We should rule our lives in accordance to the moral laws set forth by our Father in Heaven. It is by His Will that we should live our lives... not our own. Unless this pastor is able to rightfully discern Scripture [in its fullness], she will most likely not come to a position of recognizing that she has grieved her Creator by not honoring her body, nor has she glorified His sacrifice. And she most likely will never arrive at repentance or asking for forgiveness for not only her own confusion, but leading her congregation to confusion or disobedience. She will one day stand before her Lord and have to answer for how she has represented Him. I would never question her love of the Lord. I don't know her heart. But Jesus does. Her salvation may not be in question, but her rewards and inheritance in the Kingdom of God certainly will be. 

We must pray for our nation and our fellow Christians. We must pray that the deception that has been eagerly welcomed in our universities and our churches will be exposed for the lies that they are. We were not made for our own gratification, but to glorify and hold sacred the One who created us, and honor all His ways. Each one of us will have to answer to Him, and we have a choice this election -- not only to safeguard our nation, but our eternal destinies. Pray without ceasing that Christians examine their hearts!

2 Timothy 4:3-4    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.




October 10, 2020

Inquiring Minds Want To Know: How Far Should the Analogy Go?


I am so blessed with readers who have followed this blog long enough to feel comfortable challenging me on my theology and/or asking questions about specific Scripture. We don't always agree, and that's okay. And I don't always have the answers, and I'm not afraid to say so. But I love the discussions, and the knowledge that there are people seeking more of our God instead of being comfortable in their traditions and rituals. I love hearing from them and the connection it gives me to them.

One such reader was diving into her own thoughts on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and here is the substance of her question ... How far should the analogy go? Her understanding is that all ten were virgins; all ten were invited to the wedding; all ten came at the right time to wait; all ten had lamps; all ten had at least some oil; but only five had ENOUGH oil and made it into the wedding feast. She was struggling to figure out who were the five virgins that weren't allowed into the wedding feast? Do they represent Christians who are in danger of being left behind at the Rapture? And, if I am understanding her confusion correctly, she was struggling with equating Christians (regardless of their measure of faith) with being called "foolish".

I will tell you that "the Church" has struggled with this parable for centuries, and I do not claim to have all the answers, by any means. I do know that for years, I have missed an important factor of this parable (and others) by not considering Jesus's qualifying statement "the kingdom of heaven will be like...". This reader rightly understands so many things about the state of Christians and the Church in these days. She perceives that modern-day Christianity has resulted in a Laodiciean Church; a lukewarm, accommodating, and compromising Church -- one that is willing to sacrifice righteousness in order to get along with the culture and society. She has a real concern that these Christians are being identified with the "foolish" virgins and they may be left behind when Jesus returns and the Church is raptured.

Let me explain my fundamental understanding of this Parable. I do not think its meaning is connected to the Rapture. And I base that on my understanding of who the principle characters are; the significance of the lack of oil; and the reference Jesus makes to the Kingdom of heaven. So, let me see if I can explain this in a manner that rightly represents where I stand today.

First, central to our understanding of this parable is knowing why Jesus says it "will be like the kingdom of heaven". I have read some commentaries that try to equate the kingdom of heaven to the Church. I patently reject that theory! The kingdom of heaven is the realm where the king lives. It is where God, the Father, rules from heaven. It is the seat of His government, and where His Love, Mercy, Grace, and Judgment abound. It is His domain, and from where He instituted man's dominion over the earth when He created us. The kingdom of heaven was the model for how man was to govern the earth on behalf of God. But that plan was re-directed when Adam and Eve gave their dominion [rulership] of the earth over to Satan in the Garden of Eden.

Also, notice that Jesus says the kingdom of heaven will be like the ten virgins. That indicates a future event; in this case not the Rapture, but it definitely has to do with His Second Coming. And it is important that we see the progression of the kingdom of heaven on earth. It was established in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Even walked in the presence of God... remember, wherever the king is, there is his kingdom. So the earth might have been established as a "colony" of the kingdom of heaven, but it didn't regain its original identity [or purpose] until Jesus came the first time, re-inaugurating that designation when He announced, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". 

There is a dual significance in that declaration. First, repent means more than forgiveness of sins [which is what it meant to John the Baptist]; it also meant to change the way the people of the earth were to think of themselves. They were to begin thinking from God's perspective in heaven. Jesus came to re-establish earth as an extension of heaven and to re-establish our purpose on the earth. So, again, how does the story of the ten virgins point to the kingdom of heaven and what it will be like?  

Jesus is obviously the Bridegroom. I have heard the virgins mentioned as merely church members, but I think that is too broad a representation. I believe they are more correctly, Saved Christians. I base that on the fact that they all possess oil to some degree, and oil is one of the metaphors for the Holy Spirit. We all know that when we come to faith in Jesus (or Saved), we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is an indicator of our salvation. Oil as a metaphor of the Holy Spirit’s presence [and action in our lives] is clear in the ritual of anointing prophets, priests, and kings.

So all ten virgins possess the oil of anointing of the Holy Spirit. For me, the big question is what is the significance of five of the virgins having extra flasks of oil with them, and five not making that preparation? They all have full lamps, right? And why do the foolish virgins' lamps run out of oil? I want you to see that this parable has both a physical and spiritual application; both to the Jew and the Gentile. Let's begin with the Jews ... To gain a fuller understanding of what is going on here, we need to comprehend this passage's correspondence to a typical orthodox Jewish wedding. We need to look at it from this physical perspective because Jesus is a Jew, speaking to Jews and this message is for them. See it in both a practical application and how it points to the Father's plan of redemption.

The parable is of a typical Jewish wedding. After the betrothal the groom goes back to his family estate and prepares rooms for his bride and himself to live in after their wedding, if necessary building on to or up from existing dwellings, if not constructing a new one. No one can predict how long that will take. When all is ready, he and his attendants travel to the bride's place, often a great distance, and usually a shofar is blown to announce their arrival and a shout will go up to alert the bride's household and party. The bride and her attendants [the virgins] are expected to be ready for this, having purchased beforehand all that is necessary. ("In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”) Do you see the connection?

In the parable, the wise virgins refuse to share their oil because then none of them will have enough and the celebrations will be adversely affected. The wise virgins, these ladies in waiting who attend the bride, are simply fulfulling their duty to wait on the bride. They took the pains to make sure they had extra oil in case the bridegroom was delayed. So they will tell the foolish virgins to go buy more olive oil from whomever has some to sell. Any Jew with an olive tree and an olive press would most likely have some on hand, and some might actually be in the business of supplying olive oil. 

But because the foolish virgins didn't go the extra mile to make sure they wouldn't be caught without enough oil, they miss out on the festivities of the wedding between the bridegroom and the bride, and the groom doesn't know who they are when they show up banging on the door to be let in.

So, let's transition to the spiritual side of this parable; what the kingdom of heaven will look like when the bridegroom returns. Time and time again, Jesus warns His disciples [and those who flock to his teachings] to be ready.... "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:44); "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Matthew 25:13). Stay awake; be watchful are warnings throughout the New Testament. To me, it is obvious that the wise virgins made sure they would be ready and prepared, and had plenty of oil to last, no matter how long it took the bridegroom to return. The foolish virgins were content to rely on only what was required, and did not store up for the future.

So, is there anything else I see in this parable? Because Jesus makes it clear that this parable is what it will be like in the kingdom of heaven, I surmise He is referring to when He returns at His Second Coming, when the kingdom of heaven will be fully established on earth at His presence in the Millennial Kingdom. We are not to just inhabit the earth until His return; we are to take back territory from the kingdom of darkness, thereby expanding the kingdom on earth. And what effect does that have for us in eternity, when we will be where He is?

When He returns, we will be called before Him at the Bema Seat judgment to report what we did for His kingdom during His sojourn to His Father's House. The extra oil that the wise virgins have with them represents what they accomplished for the Kingdom, and they will receive crowns and rewards. The foolish virgins, while Saved, will inherit their salvation, but no rewards or crowns. The wedding feast is for those who diligently attended the bride and walked in their kingdom power and authority, working with Jesus to accomplish the Father's will; often at great sacrifice and risk. Jesus will know them! Those who carried the title of bridal attendants, but rested on that privilege, without a personal experience in working with Jesus will go unrecognized. 

The rewards we earn cannot be borrowed from another, and cannot be sold to another. When Jesus returns, all those who are Saved will enter Heaven, and that includes all ten virgins. But there will be a wedding between Jesus, the Messiah/Bridegroom and His Bride (a union between a restored Israel and Jesus's Ekklesia). There will also be a wedding feast to celebrate this union and covenant ordained by God. Not everyone is invited to the feast. Only those whom Jesus intimately knows. And I think it goes without saying, that the foolish virgins will lament the time wasted and the inheritance/rewards lost.

I want to finish this post by saying that this parable has a depth that is almost unfathomable. By no means, do I have it all figured out, or all the puzzle pieces in the right places. My understanding is a work in progress. But I hope with the questions my reader asked, and my attempt to explain my current understanding, it will encourage and excite you to dive in with us. There is no more satisfaction than that which comes from getting closer to your Savior and the Father, when you study and receive the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit in the process. And be prepared for your opinions to change and your knowledge to grow. This journey with God is never stagnant! We are to grow from glory to glory, and it's all His Glory! Join us!

Matthew 16:27  For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done.

April 25, 2020

Through A Kingdom Lens: Rediscovering What The Church Lost

     I am proud to announce that my new book, Through A Kingdom Lens: Rediscovering What The Church Lost has finally been published, and is now available on Amazon. I want you to know that it is uncomfortable for me to promote this book for my own benefit. It has always been my purpose to write it to encourage those people (both Believers and non-Believers, alike) who have struggled with knowing their purpose in life.
     So, why does someone like me, just an ordinary follower of Christ, decide to write a book about the Kingdom of God? I will tell you that I am no Bible scholar. I have no religious titles attached to my name and hold no theological degrees. The simple explanation is that I was made to write for the Lord. It delights Him when I use the gift He has given me. In 2008 I received a prompting from the Holy Spirit to write this blog for Him. And now He has given me a new assignment. And with this commandment, comes my intense desire for the Body of Christ to understand the Kingdom of God from His perspective. In fact, it is essential and necessary that we see it, understand it, preach it, enter it, expand it, and establish it!
     I will admit that it has been a long personal journey for me to grasp the significance of the Kingdom in my life. I have spent many hours in deep study of God’s Word. I have engaged in exhaustive dialogues with other Kingdom-seekers, as we try to come to terms with the revelation that “the Church” has failed to equip the saints in this matter. But most of all, I have listened to the Holy Spirit’s counsel and guidance as He continues to teach me the truth of what Scripture says about the Kingdom of God.
     This book represents all that I have learned to date. I do not think the information I bring you is infallible; nor do I think it is complete. I am still on the path of revelation and knowledge about the Kingdom of God. But the impetus for this book does come from a place of deep yearning to share what I have learned because I believe it is of critical importance to the Body of Christ.
    I wrote it with the intention of encouraging all those who have wondered about the "deeper" things of their existence and their relationship with Jesus, just as I have throughout my life. It has not been a question of my faith, but rather a desire to feed that hunger inside of me for "more" than what I received from my Church's doctrine. From the moment I realized I had unanswered questions, I wasn't going to be satisfied until I received the answer from God.
     My questions began with this very important one ... What is the difference between the Gospel of Salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom? What is the Kingdom of God, and what does it have to do with me? What do being "Born Again" and "Renewing my mind" really mean? How am I supposed to interpret Salvation, Grace, Repentance, Inheritance, and Justice in relation to the Kingdom? How do Religion and Spiritual Warfare intersect with the Kingdom? And, here is the real struggle I had ... why aren't these questions being addressed by the Shepherds of the Church, who are supposed to
"equip and train us to come together in unity of the faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ", so that we might mature into the fullness of Christ. The problem was, I was discerning that there was knowledge of Jesus that I was missing... and I was hungry for it; I could not hope to come to the full measure of being like Christ until I received and understand all of Him!
     And, please know, that this is not an attempt to bash "The Church". It is simply a realization that, as I began to dive into Scripture for answers, that our Church and denominational doctrines didn't always accurately represent what the Word said -- or at the least, that our doctrines were based on a single verse, rather than on the context of an entire chapter or Book!
     Mind you, I have had faithful and Godly men and women in the Church who have instructed me to the best of their abilities. But I was surprised to discover that some of these teachings didn't match up with the Spirit of the Word. I don't blame them, and came to the understanding that these teachings were the result of distorted interpretations that have come down to the Church through the centuries. But now God was uncovering His Truth as He lit up the Scriptures like I'd never seen them before!
     Next, He sent people to give me a prophetic word about how He wanted me to share what He was revealing. In the middle of a small prayer group, a Pastor stopped and looked at me, and said, "You are going to write a book for God". It was that simple, yet profound. Nearly a year later, I was commenting to a very dear friend and mentor that every time I wrote about Kingdom on this blog, or walked it out, the devil make it clear he wasn't pleased. Her response? "Then I guess you better write a book!" So, I could no longer ignore God's promptings, and now you see the fruit of my labor.
     So, I hope you will read this little book with the goal of beginning your own journey into studying the Kingdom of God. Do not accept my opinions as the final word on the subject. You will find that I am forthcoming about the authors and teachers who helped me to unravel and clarify my theology. But I always took their teachings back to Scripture and let the Holy Spirit fine-tune my thinking. If nothing else, I hope that your consideration of my analysis will prompt you to do the same and begin your own study and research.
     I promise you, it will be worth your while. Because I now know, in my heart and my spirit, why we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. And I want to share what I have learned from the Father with you. I pray that you will be as blessed by this book as much as I was in the process of writing it. Enjoy!

Here is the link to the book on Amazon: www.amzn.com/1734916133

Proverbs 2:3-5     Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

February 19, 2020

The Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

     Today, I want to revisit a post that I wrote over six years ago, in which I quoted Matthew 25:29:30 ...  For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is part of the Parable of the Talents, in which a wealthy man goes on a journey, entrusting his property to his servants; assigning various degrees of authority to them. When he returns, he settles up with these servants according to how they have prospered him. 
     Discerning minds understand that this is a parable representing Jesus, who on His Second Coming will reward those who have been good custodians of His Kingdom. [NOTE: Different translations use different designations for those left to steward the Kingdom; they are called "worthless slaves" (New American Standard translation); "good-for-nothing servants" (Passion Translation); "useless servant (New Living Translation); and "unprofitable servant" (King James Version).] Elsewhere, I have found them referred to as "bond-servants", which closely resembles the use of the word "slave". In fact, the Apostle Paul refers to himself as a bond-servant and slave to Christ in more than one translation of Romans 1:1. So, I think we can agree that this term is appropriate in the sense that we have been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, and are dependent upon Him for every facet of our existence.

      But I want to get past these differences in terminology and focus on the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth". This continues to be a controversial and confusing topic to modern Christians. We can understand from the entirety of the Parable that Jesus will be pleased with the profit of those servants who have increased what He left them. And what exactly was it that He put them in charge of? The advancement of His Kingdom and dominion on the earth! I will admit that six years ago when I first wrote about this topic, I limited His "estate" to the Gospel of Salvation and the Good News of His redeeming death, burial, and resurrection. But by the Grace of God, it has been revealed to me that this was just the entry point -- the gate, if you will -- to His Kingdom territory. He intends for each of us to go beyond sharing the Salvation message and actually add to His territory. And for those who don't ... well, this is where it gets uncomfortable.
     The Church has long implied that "weeping and gnashing of teeth" point to Hell.  In fact, if you Google outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth, and click on "Images", you will see countless depictions of people writhing and burning in the fiery pits of hell.  I DO NOT believe that this is what Jesus is conveying in this particular passage. 
     To help prove my point, I would like to offer you an expanded Greek translation of these verses.  Unlike the standard Authorized Greek translation of 1611, or the American Revised Greek version of 1901, this expanded translation by Kenneth Wuest follows the Greek order of words in the sentences, which I think gives us a more accurate and clearer interpretation of what Jesus actually said. This expanded translation reads as follows:  

     ... for to the one who has shall be given, and he shall be furnished with a superfluity, 
and he who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken from him. 
And the good-for-nothing slave, throw [him] out into the darkness; that which is outside.
There, in that place, there shall be lamentation and the gnashing of teeth.
      We must remember that Jesus is speaking to the Disciples, the first members of His Church -- and the servants that He is talking about in the Parable are His own servants; those that belong to Him (Believers).  The talents (or the money) represented the stewardship of the Kingdom that we, as Believers and Kingdom Citizens, are given in His absence. Just like the servants, we can decide what we will do with that special privilege. The reward of each servant did not depend on the fact that they possessed the talents, but what they did with them.  Hence, our reward, when our Master returns, does not rest upon His gift of salvation, which all Believers possess, but with what we have done for His Kingdom in His absence! 
     At this point, we must recognize that Jesus is ultimately talking about how He will reward Believers when He returns and sets up His Millennial Kingdom.  In Revelation 20:6, we are told that there is an inheritance to be gained in this Millennial Kingdom, when we "will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."  IT IS IMPORTANT that you understand that ALL Believers will gain entry into the Millennial Kingdom, but I do not believe that all will be given roles of authority and "rule or reign" with Him.  That mandate will be given only to those who have shown they can produce fruit for Him and His Kingdom.
      So what does Jesus mean when He says to throw the "good-for-nothing" slave into the outer darkness?  In John 8:12, Jesus says "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  When we are in the presence of Jesus -- when we are closest to Him -- we are in His light.  Here, He is saying, "Whoever follows me -- whoever takes up my Cross and spreads my Kingdom Gospel Message -- will have the light of eternal life."  When we accept our salvation through faith in Jesus, we gain entry into His Kingdom (see John 3:1-5). And when He inaugurates the Millennial Kingdom, there will be degrees of rewards, depending on how we stewarded the Kingdom while He was away, and the fruit we produced from our efforts. Being in the nearness of His light is one of the privileges of having done well for Him. All true Believers will enter the Millennial Kingdom, but Jesus makes it very plain who will be allowed to co-reign with Him.  Matthew 25:23 says it all: "His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."  
     Then He turns around, and in verse 30, pronounces the reward on the unfruitful servant.  This servant is in the Kingdom; he is in the presence of the returning Master.  But his failure to do anything to increase the Master's Kingdom has resulted in him being unable to rule and reign with Christ and he will not be within that inner circle of light that surrounds the King of Kings. REMEMBER, John 3:18 tells us that "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned."  Condemned equals hell. This servant is not condemned; he is just cast into the outer reaches of the Millennium Kingdom, or the darkness outside of Jesus's presence. He has gained entry, but no inheritance of authority or rulership. 
    As to weeping and gnashing of teeth, this refers to profound regret, or the deep remorse of a man who was an unfaithful servant.  Can you not picture yourself grieving if you arrive in the Millennial Kingdom and realize that you didn't do all you could to advance the Kingdom Message? That you perhaps shared the Salvation message, but didn't go further in your Kingdom mandate to continue the work of Jesus to heal the broken-hearted or set the captives free?  Imagine this: you're in the Kingdom, but assigned to the outer edges (away from Christ's light) because what you were given was taken away and given to others who bore more fruit than you... doesn't that perfectly describe the state of the unprofitable servant in the Parable of the Talents? 
     So I hope that this discussion might have given you a new perspective on this wise Parable. As always, I urge you to do your own study and be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, receive the Word with readiness, and search the Scriptures to see if these things be so. Jesus desires that all of us be like the two servants who took their stewardship and responsibilities seriously; He wants to reward us when He returns. May the Holy Spirit guide you in walking in your Kingdom identity, accomplishing great things for the Kingdom of God, and receiving your reward and inheritance in the fulfillment of the Kingdom to come.
Psalm 16:5-6    Lord, I have chosen You alone as my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.
I leave my destiny and its timing in Your hands. Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places. I’m overwhelmed by the privileges that come with following You, for You have given me the best! 

October 8, 2019

The Five Stepping Stones of the Kingdom

     This post is a teaching that my husband has developed on the Kingdom of God. It has progressed over time and through the revelation he has received from the Lord about the process we Christians need to go through to achieve our fullness in Him and the Kingdom. He calls it the "Five Stones" because he likens it to the five stones that David picked up as he prepared for his battle with Goliath. Like those stones, these five principles of the Kingdom will defeat the kingdom of Satan in your life. While David only needed one stone to slay the Nephilim giant, all five of Mark's stones build on each other and are the foundation of our Kingdom experience. Let's take a look at them...
     The first stone is Salvation. There is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it. It is a free gift for all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as the resurrected Son of God. It is an essential and necessary element of your Kingdom citizenship. Jesus says in John 3:1-5 that you cannot "see the Kingdom" until you are Saved. In other words, you cannot perceive it, understand it, recognize it, appreciate it, or fathom it unless you are "Born Again", or Saved.
     The Lord also says you cannot "enter the Kingdom" unless you receive Salvation. Again, you cannot engage in the Kingdom, participate in it, submit to it, or set foot in it without being "born of water and the Spirit". That my friends, is what it means to get Saved. So Salvation is the first crucial step of our Kingdom experience.
     The second stone is Getting Free. Once you have received the free gift of Salvation, it is incumbent upon you to get free of the bondages and torment from the Enemy. The devil knows that Christ has defeated his most powerful weapon [Death] and that Salvation [which brings Eternal Life] is the first step towards our freedom. He knows if we Christians ever break free of his deceptions and lies, we will be unstoppable in knowing our power and authority to defeat his kingdom of darkness on the earth.
     If he can get us to stop at Salvation and not seek Freedom in Christ, then he can influence our spiritual walk and impede our advancement in the Kingdom. If he can keep us limited to Salvation alone then we will never seek more of the Kingdom, leaving his [Satan's] kingdom in full force. And that leads me to Mark's third stone ...
     This stone is Understanding the Kingdom of God as a concept. This means we need to understand that, unlike Salvation, our citizenship in the Kingdom of God on earth is not a free gift. We actually have to do something to receive it. We have to seek it! That means we have to understand what it is -- the re-establishment of God's government on the earth, "as it is in heaven" -- and we have to earnestly covet it and strive after it; yearn to possess it; struggle or fight vigorously for it. It is worth that much!
     We have to recognize that we do not belong to this world; that our citizenship is in Heaven and we have to dive deep into the Word to see what it says about who we are and what our responsibilities are. To be effective citizens and ambassadors of Heaven, we must understand the Principles and the Keys to the Kingdom. We cannot hope to achieve the fullness of the stature of Christ without understanding the concept of the Kingdom of God and all it encompasses. And that takes us to the next stone.
     This is the stone of Kingdom execution. Once we understand the Kingdom concept and one of its most important components -- that Jesus came to restore our power and authority that were given to Adam and Eve in the Garden, but which was usurped by Satan -- then it is time to walk in our identity.
     Jesus spent three years training 12 men to be our role models. They were simple men whom He chose so that we would not think we had to meet the world's standards in order to serve in His Kingdom. His instructions are clear and straightforward for those who are willing to carry them out: GO; make disciples and baptize in His Name; heal the sick; cast out demons; cleanse the lepers [those who are physically and spiritually unclean]; raise the dead; spread the Gospel of the Kingdom; and "do the things that He has done, only greater". That includes loving the Father and others, sowing righteousness and justice, and bearing fruit for the Kingdom; which leads us to the last stone in Mark's model of our Kingdom experience.
    This fifth and final stone depends on how you progress and advance through the first four. It is the stone of Inheritance. We have found that this is largely an unknown benefit of our Kingdom citizenship, and Christians are hard-pressed to grasp the fullness of it. Oh, we know we inherit eternal life, but often that's all we're able to perceive. The thought that we might receive rewards for our work here on earth often violates denominational doctrine that warns against seeking to earn your salvation.
     But that is a wrong interpretation! We are not talking about Salvation here, and it is quite true that you cannot work to earn that. We are talking about rewards and inheritance in the Kingdom of God for our service to our King. In Revelation 19, we are introduced to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, in which we read that the Lamb's Bride "has made herself ready". And here is a truth we need to see, understand, and receive: " She [the Bride] has been permitted to dress in fine linen, dazzling white and clean—for the fine linen signifies the righteous acts of the saints".
     Then there is Colossians 3:23-24, which says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." When we stand before the Lord, we will answer for what we did for His Kingdom after we received Salvation; how we spent our time on earth as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We will receive the reward of crowns, which we will lay at His feet, recognizing our unworthiness in light of His sacrifice. 
     As you can see, our understanding of the Kingdom of God will greatly impact how we live our lives as Believers. We can rightly rejoice in our Salvation, but it is how we progress beyond that point that will determine if we enter into the Kingdom and reach our full potential as Kingdom citizens on the earth. Should we never recognize the Kingdom, we will still receive eternal life in Heaven, but we may never be free of the torment of Satan's kingdom on earth, and we will most certainly limit our rewards in Heaven.  
     I'm happy to see an awakening among the Body of Christ to the reality of the Kingdom, but I am praying that "Kingdom" will become more than the latest Christian buzzword, and a reality and pursuit of all Believers. The sooner we seek, find, and enter the Kingdom, the sooner we can expect to see our Lord coming on the clouds with great power and glory!

Daniel 2:44    "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,"