5-19-19 Present-day Kingdom of God

Present-day Kingdom of God

Mankind has always lived in the Kingdom of God; mostly without realizing it, however. For, we have viewed the environment with but not through our eyes. What distortions do you see today?

“This life’s dim windows of the soul

Distorts the heaven from pole to pole

And leads you to believe a lie

When you see with, not through, the eye.” (William Blake).

Adam and Eve saw God through their eyes; that is, they were aware of His presence in the Garden of Eden and conversed with Him (Genesis 3.1-24, NKJV). We might say that Moses looked through his eyes to see God’s plans for the Tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 26.30). And, we might say the same about King David receiving the plans for the first Temple (1 Chronicles 28.11-19). These were special occasions; not the general rule in the Old Testament. Should we see through our eyes everyday?

Nicodemus sought to understand Jesus’ miracles (John 2.23) and learned about the need to be born again so he could see through his eyes (John 3.1-8). With his eyes, Nicodemus only saw the result; but through his eyes, he would see the Spirit of God performing through Jesus the “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2.10; Matthew 10.7-8). Miracles are God’s ‘normal’ activities to become our reality by faith (Hebrews 4.2).

The world is condemned, like Nicodemus, to only see with the eyes the miracles of God and, then, to wonder what happened. Apostle Peter’s second sermon (Acts 3.11-4.12) illustrates this;Acts 3.16and 4.12 describe the view through the eye. Regrettably, most Christians are as blind as the crowd and Sanhedrin because we have not been taught to live in the Kingdom of God. This was Philip’s message in Samaria and, probably, with the Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8.12). We fail to see that God brought the recent rains to Kenya to overcome the prolonged drought. We fail to credit Him with providing the healing in response to our prayerful requests. We thank the employer for our compensation but not the Epistemological Logos Who enlightens our competence to excel at the work assigned (John 1.9); The Will of God and The Mind of Man, Nash, 1982, p. 67).

From the beginning, God has proclaimed a mindset of righteousness and critiqued His followers’ behaviors in the Kingdom of God through the writing of the prophets (Hebrews 1.1-2). Righteousness was taught by priests of Aaron’s line until the time of the last and greatest of the Old Testament priests, John the Baptist. God told him to transfer the priesthood to Jesus by washing in the Jordan River, just as Moses had washed Aaron at the entrance to the Tabernacle (Luke 3.2b-3; John 1.29-34; Leviticus 8.6-9).

Persons looking with their eyes only saw Jesus as one of many who were baptized. But, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn sees through his eyes that Jesus’ baptism by John was a “cosmic changing of the guard”, a passing of the torch, “the old priesthood bearing witness of the new and declaring it the greater” (The Book of Mysteries, 2016, Day 153). Have you ‘eyed’ Jesus’ baptism this way before now? Probably not.

Likewise, you probably have never considered another meaning of your baptism in addition to the obvious symbol of the new life from Christ Jesus (John 1.4). When we are baptized into the name of Jesus, we are ceremonially ‘washed’ with the Holy Spirit into the priesthood (Matthew 28.19;Mark 1.8;1 Peter 2.9). The ancient Hebrews disdained becoming priest preparing the world for the arrival of Highest Priest Jesus (Exodus 19.6). But now, we attest to His coming by following His ways (Matthew 10.7-8 & 27; Acts 11.26;1 John 4.1-4).

Later, as He was leaving earth, Jesus instructs the disciples that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit shortly (Acts 1.5, 2.1-4). This fulfilled John the Baptist’s declaration about Jesus ‘washing’ believers with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1.8). Apostle Paul states that believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1.13-14; “sealed” is an interesting picture of Him wrapping around your spirit/soul/body which have been immersed and baptizoed (Gk.) or changed by His saturation).

Thus, Apostle Peter charges us a “royal priesthood” with the same charge as Jesus (1 Peter 2.9 {fulfilling Exodus 19.6}; John 17.18; Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 26.16-18). Was Jesus putting God’s Name upon the people, like Aaron (Numbers 6.22-27: “’ So they shall put My name on the children…and I will bless them’”; Psalm 5.12)?  Are we to repeat this placing of “Jesus” upon people? (Hebrews 13.8; Philippians 2.9-11)? Consequently we become part of the “cosmic changing of the guard” (Cahn, ibid) has occurred by followers of Christ being washed by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1.8)!

Today, we “live, move, and have our being” in the Kingdom of God (Acts 17.28). This was Jesus’ message to Nicodemus; John 3.8, NKJV: “‘The wind [Greek; same word for spirit] blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Paul echoes this in Romans 8.14.

Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16.8-11. This is what He is doing by leading us from context to context. [Later, we will study the Gifts of the Spirit for use in these various contexts.] This—John 16.8-11—is what He was leading Jesus to do on earth. This is what God was leading Moses, David, and others to do in the Old Testament.

Consider these examples from the Old and New Testaments.

  • Elijah stops and starts the rain; James 5.17-18& 1 Kings 17-18(Elijah, also, feeds the widow and her son and raises him from the dead; then, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal).
  • Elisha floats an iron axe head in water (2 Kings 6.17) and blinds the Syrian army that surrounds his and open his servant’s eyes to see through them a Heavenly army protecting them; 2 Kings 6.15-18; this was after he heals Naaman of leprosy; 2 Kings 5.1-19.
  • Jesus heals the leper, the Centurion’s servant, and Peter’s mother-in-law by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 8.1-15; John 1.29-34).
  • Peter and John heal a paralytic by acknowledging his faith in Jesus’ name; (Acts 14.8-10), raises a young man from the dead (Acts 20.7-12), and is, himself raised from the dead (Acts 14.19-20).

This is normal in the Kingdom of God! We find great benefits when we realize that we live within it (Matthew 6.63; John 14.26& 16.4).

Can you see it? No; then, look through, not with your eyes.

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

May 5, 2019 “‘Receive the Holy Spirit'”

“‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”

Jesus’ bodily Resurrection is a certainty and one of three foundational beliefs of Christianity; the other two are His virgin birth and His atoning death. Each event, in order, shows the Omniscience of God (Isaiah 53.6, Jeremiah 13.10, John 3.16; ESV), His Omnipotence (Exodus 34.10, Deuteronomy 18.18, Isaiah 7.14 & 9.6-7, Luke 1.35, Hebrews 2.14-15), and His Omnipresence (2 Chronicles 16.9a, Psalm 32.8, John 17.12, John 14.15-18).

Even after He gave up His body (the better reading of John 19.30; see James 2.26a; Ecclesiastes 12.7), Jesus evidenced these qualities of God by taking the ‘good’ thief with Himself to the Paradise of Hades (Luke 23.43) and, I believe likewise, satan to the Pit of Hades (John 12.31 fulfilling Isaiah 14.12-15). Remember that Jesus had illustrated this separation in the story contrasting the deaths of a man named Lazarus (meaning man whom God helps [Easton’s Bible Dictionary; olivetree.com]) and the rich man who did not respond to Lazarus’ plight (Luke 16.19-31, especially verse 26).

Side Bar: Apostle Paul presents several other events of Jesus’ earthly life between His bodily resurrection (John 20.1-9) and ascension (Acts 1.9). Paul, apparently, learned of the events in the order of his presentation in 1 Corinthians 15.3-7. Jesus appeared to Peter (note Peter’s account in Acts 10.41), then to the Apostles, then to 500+ men and women at the same time, then to James (Acts 15.13-21, especially verse 19), and then to the Apostles (Luke 24.50-51; perhaps, as Jesus lifted off from earth; Acts 1.9 is same author). Where was Jesus between these events? Probably in the Paradise of Hades with those who met God’s previous requirements. Perhaps, even in Heaven, depending upon when He may have heard Father God repeat the words of Psalm 110.1 (AMP): “‘”Sit at My right hand
until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet [subjugating them into complete submission].’” Jesus was purposefully busy!

After Jesus repossess His, now glorified, body and reveals Himself to Mary in the Garden near the, empty, Tomb, (John 20.11-16) Jesus appears to the Apostles, minus Thomas, on that same evening. John 20.22 records that He “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. Was Jesus referring to the Third Person of the Trinity, Whom the Father would send (John 14.26), or to Himself? Why does the distinction matter?

We might presume that Jesus is continuing His instruction of them (John 14-16) about the time when the Father would, in fact, send the Holy Spirit. This occurred 50 days later at the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23.16), a celebration of the first fruits called Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2.1-4). But, since Jesus knew everything except the end of the Age (Matthew 24.35-37), why would He remind them at this early time to expect the Holy Spirit in fifty days? Dr. Luke reminds us, in Acts 1.4-8, that Jesus repeated this instruction as He was rising from earth.

Let me posit a theorem which, I believe, the Holy Spirit prompted in my reflections before bedtime last Monday night; that Jesus was speaking of Himself in His instruction to “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20.22). My rationale rests upon the word “receive”. John 1.12 establishes the importance of this word to our faith. The disciples had received, that is believed in, the embodiedJesus (John 1.14). They had walked, literally and figuratively, with Him for three years and felt His hand upon their shoulders and put theirs upon His (1 John 1.1-4).

But, now the Apostles had to receive, that is believe in, Jesus as Spirit, Who suddenly appeared before them, and disappeared the as quickly (John 20.19 & 26). His body had the same visible features as that which had been entombed (John 20.20); these confirmed Jesus’ identify to them. Now, He was the same but different.

The disciples HAD TO receive Jesus as Spirit. Jesus’ discussion with Thomas explains why; John 20.26-29. Jesus’ contrast of seeing with physical eyes versus spiritual eyes is the contrast of believing only in what we can see with the eyes that came with our physical bodies. You and I have believed in the written account of Jesus’ earthly life with the disciples and in the three fundamental tenets of our Christian faith: Jesus’ virgin birth, atoning death, and bodily resurrection. Thus, we have believe in Jesus as a Spirit.

Similarly, we MUST believe that God saves today as effectively as we are convinced He will save us in eternity. Apostle Peter illustrates this in the healing of the paralytic in Acts 3.1-10. When called to explain this, he points to the man’s faith in the unseen person of Jesus by believing in Jesus’ name to produce his healing; verse 16. Then, Peter responds to the Sanhedrin’s question by proclaiming that Jesus continuously heals through faith in His name; see Acts 4.12, which is about temporal salvation and not about eternal life.

So, the answer to my query, was Jesus speaking of Himself or of the coming Third Person of the Trinity (John 20.22), is Jesus speaking about Himself. We must receive Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10.14-24) and continual presence through His powerful Name. Mark’s record of Jesus’ Great Commission (Mark 16.15-18) concludes with the declaration, in verse 20, that Jesus did, in fact, go with the disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons. Mark may be writing about events which are not included in Scripture. These events might have prompted the residents of Antioch to call Christ-followers ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26).

However, after Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1.8, Psalm 110.1) and the Third Person of the Trinity appeared (Acts 2.1-4), we should understand that the Holy Spirit continued the work begun by Jesus, as Jesus states in John 16.13-15. Thus, He still goes with disciples who receive that Jesus saves everyday!

Jesus “breathed” on the Apostles before He told them to “‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20.22). There are several understandings from this. First, God told Ezekiel to bring the dry bones of discouraged Israel to life by calling breath into them; Ezekiel 37.1-14. In verses 4-5, God says that breath He sends will give them life. Ezekiel’s role was to call the breath by speaking. Likewise, Jesus had told Nicodemus the Spirit would deploy him with understanding of his mission and with enlightened eyes once he accepted Jesus as Messiah; John 3.1-8. His acceptance would be the ‘new life’ we speak about. The Hebrew ‘breath’ and Greek ‘wind’ mean spirit! Both Ezekiel and Nicodemus would “call into being that which does not
exist” (Romans 4.17 AMP).

Second, Adam’s earth-suit only came alive after God breathed into him (Genesis 1.26-27, 2.7). So, is the ‘death rattle’ (“terminal respiratory secretions”; google.com) when someone dies the reverse; that is, the spirit giving up the body and returning to God (James 2.26; John 19.30)? Dr. Luke includes Paul’s discussion of this in his speech at Mar’s Hill; see especially Acts 17.24-25, 28. Perhaps, we live within God’s Breath.

Third, God gave the Aaronic Benediction or Blessing in Numbers 6.22-26as a means for putting His name upon the Israelites (verse 27). Jesus conveys the same meaning in John 6.63by speaking words of “‘spirit and life’’ to the people. This context is that which He implies in His continued statement of John 20.23: the sins of people who believe your witness to Jesus are forgiven, but the sins of those who reject are not forgiven (and will be judged at the Great White Throne by God; Revelation 20.11-15).

So, let me tie these together to comment on Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20.22). In addition to emphasizing that the Apostles must
“receive” (John 1.12) Him in Spirit as they had “received” Him in the flesh (John 1.1, 14, 33-34), the Apostles should understand that they would be affirming or offering “life” to any who received their witness about Him (Matthew 28.19, “into”) and would be blessing believers with the Name of God (John 17.12 [AMP, ESV, NASB]; Philippians 2.9-11; Hebrews 13.8).

When you received Jesus as Savior, you received the right to use His Name everyday. This is His encouragement in John 16.24: “‘Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.’” You are entitled!

Receive the Holy Spirit

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.