August 25, 2019 Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God

Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God

Before the “devout and God-fearing men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2.8-11, Amplified Bible, 2015) returned to their home countries after the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost), the Holy Spirit made sure that the 3,000+ who had received Jesus Christ as Savior were “baptized into the Name” Jesus and were taught “to observe everything” (Matthew 28.19-20) they would need for evangelizing their homelands (Ephesians 2.10; Matthew 10.7-8; Luke 10.1-9).

That is, through the Holy Spirit’s teaching, through more-experienced believers, in Solomon’s Portico and in believers’ homes (Acts 2.42, 5.19-21a), they understood that:

They had become equipped to work in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 10.7-8; Ephesians 2.10). The Holy Spirit was their teacher (1 John 2.27) through the Apostles in the Temple and through the hosts in their places of ‘room and board’ (Acts 2.46-47). The Apostles had become equipped by observing firsthand with Jesus (Matthew 10.7-8), then had experienced personally the Holy Spirit (Luke 10.1-9, 17-19), and, lastly, had become ‘trainers of trainers’ for their fellow countrymen who would believe and repeat the protocol first learned in Jerusalem at Pentecost (also Acts 6:1-6 regarding servants).

The ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit is, even, acknowledged by the snide remark of the new believers in Acts 2.7-8: ”’Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears in our own language or native dialect?’” They would learn that the Holy Spirit would give them the right words in whatever context He directed them; see Matthew 10.19-20 for Jesus’ general principle (applied narrowly there) and Acts 7.1-56 for Stephen’s illustration (showing the faithfulness of God and the rebellion of the Jews).

The Apostle Paul informs us that the work of the Holy Spirit is to broadcast the truth that “Jesus is Lord” (1 Corinthians 12.3). This is just as Jesus had declared to the Apostles in John 16.13-15: He will glorify Me and take from Mine to give it to you. After all, Jesus is the Head of His body, the church, as Paul states in Ephesians 1.22-23. And, this is how John 17.18, 22-23 become reality.

Let me illustrate this from the human body. The head sends signals through twelve pairs of nerves into the spine and out through 31 other pairs of nerves to every part of the body: every follicle of hair, tissue of skin, fiber of muscle, and area of organ. The pairs of each nerve are the outbound motor signal from the brain (right parietal lobe) and an inbound sensory signal to the brain (left parietal lobe)—a continuous flow of information (between the left and right parts of the lobe/cortex). Thus, we might think of the Holy Spirit as this nervous system, as might be inferred from Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3.8 (remember that the Greek word for ‘wind’ also means ‘spirit’).

We learned last week that we, as the body of Christ (Greek kaleofor those called to follow Jesus), are really many parts carrying out our individual functions (Greek klesis for unique vocation) for the benefit of the entire body. Paul discusses this thoroughly in 1 Corinthians 12.1-31 and Romans 12.3-8. Just as Jesus ministered by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (John 1.31-34, Acts 10.38, Matthew 10.7-8), we must minister with the Gifts which the Holy Spirit brings alive within each of us, sometimes uniquely. The result of this will be the savory Fruit of the Spirit for enjoyment by others and, especially, by us (Galatians 5.22-23).

Jesus’ encouragement for us to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6.10a) and for seeking it continuously (Matthew 6.33) was His emphasis upon the work through believers by the Holy Spirit, which Jesus summarized in John 16.8-11 and 14.26. This is the only means for saving mankind eternally and our institutions temporally, as Paul discusses in 2 Corinthians 5.17-21.

We can describe the development of the 3,000+ and of ourselves and satan’s resistance thereof by drawing a Sigmoid Curve. This is the letter S stretched out but not flattened. Marking the points where the lower beginning turns upward and, again, where the upward part begins to bend over to the right delineates three parts which we might label as Learning, Doing, and Teaching, respectively.

This Sigmoid Curve separates the former lives of the 3,000+ in the kingdom of satan (on the left side of the Curve) from their new life in the Kingdom of God (on the right side of the Curve). The Holy Spirit has helped them to Learn about their new lives. They will Do the work of the Kingdom of God as they live out the Gifts of the Spirit in their native cities. When the Spirit attracts neighbors to them, these 3,000+ Christians will Teach their neighbors what they must learn.

But, satan does now give up, as we who are more mature in our faith in Jesus can attest. Maturation in Christ for new believers, i.e. advancing up the Sigmoid Curve, is always buffeted by battles against the kingdom of satan, as Jesus describes in Matthew 13.18-22. This continues as a life-long struggle against the pride of philosophies and lusts of the eyes and flesh (1 John 2.15-17). Ravi Zacharias identifies three progressions of this struggle with satan: from book or professorial knowledge to artistic performance demonstration to the subtle prescription of influencers, persons or algorithms (radio sermon on August 3, 2019). satan wants to steal (affection for God), kill (allegiance to God), and destroy the former follower of God (John 10.10a, Hebrews 6.4-6).

This is the struggle of the Kingdom of God. We are in a fight to dominate the Sigmoid Curve! Don’t let satan flatten it! For, the “greater One” is within us to hold back the kingdom of satan (1 John 4.4, 2 Thessalonians 2.1-7). Our continual victories are, really, those of the Holy Spirit judging the strongholds of the devil (2 Corinthians 2.14). And, these victories serve to strengthen our faith against satan’s attacks, as Paul comments in Hebrews 5.13-14.

God introduced the Holy Spirit’s comprehensive power (that of the Trinity of God, as seen in His attributes) in Isaiah 11.2NKJV: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him [the “Branch” is Son of God], The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

He lives within each of us (1 Corinthian 6.19)! We ARE equipped with Gifts to work with the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God! We will see how some from our “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12.1-2) were, too; including Peter, Philip, and Paul. We, like they, were commanded to “subdue” in the earth (Genesis 1.28). The disciples show us how in Luke 10.17! THE Name above all others (Philippians 2.9-11)!

Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God 190811,18,25 (* = update)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019.

August 4, 2019 Only Two Communities to God

Only Two Communities to God

“Unity from diversity is only possible in community with the Trinity”, said Ravi Zacharias during a radio sermon. The decision of the 3,000+ who were expelled from their communities (artificial, secondary environments; cultures) when they were saved at or just after Pentecost illustrate the truism reflected in this quote: that there are only two communities to God’s understanding—the lost and the saved (Acts 2.41; 2 Peter 3.8-9).

It matters not what state or country we are from or what section of that state or country or what subgroup or any other cultural division with which we may affiliate. All that matters is John 3.16-21 & John 14.6. Paul comments about this in Ephesians 2.4-10 and in Galatians 3.28. Is your faith for eternal life resting only upon Jesus’ shed blood as your substitute (2 Corinthians 5.21)? If not, you are lost…no matter how ‘good’ others tell you, you are (Micah 6.6-8)!

Your concern for and evangelism of the lost should become more urgent as you mature in Christ Jesus, as Paul implies in Ephesians 4.11-16. Your maturity in Christ is dependent upon your personal growth in knowledge (of God from the Bible; 2 Timothy 2.15, 3.16-17) leading to understanding (meditating upon the Scripture with the Holy Spirit for application in your life; Jeremiah 9.23-24, 7.23) producing faith (convinced of the truth of Philippians 2.9-11; John 14.6) and carrying out His righteous requirement by word and deed (John 14.26; Ephesians 2.102 Corinthians 5.20).

Importantly, spiritual maturity is enhanced within a community of believers who are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14) while growing through levels of knowledge and understanding of Christ through life’s experiences (John 10.10; Colossians 2.8-10; Matthew 6.33; Jeremiah 9.23-24). That community is what the 3,000+ new believers found in the early church in Jerusalem, as is explained in Acts 2.41-47.

Experienced Christians took in those, whose families, friends, and employers deserted them, to disciple them continuously in the Temple portico and in their homes before the foreigners returned to their nations and countrymen as evangelists. Perhaps, “various private homes” (Acts 2.46, Amplified Bible 2015) reflects, even, providing ‘room and board’ for these, previous strangers. There are no strangers among followers of Christ, as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5.17 and Galatians 3.28.

So, how much love to you have for new Christians? Enough to sell your assets to support them during their transition from “lost” to “found” (Romans 12.2)? Enough to disciple them in the ways of Christ? Remember that Matthew 28.19-20 applies to the “lost” described in 1 Corinthians 6.9-10/Revelation 21.8, 22.15/ Ephesians 5.5; Galatians 5.19-21; and 1 Timothy 1.9.

Providing “community” will require lots of work with people you would neither have trusted nor associated with just a few days earlier. How deep is your love, to repurpose an old song lyric (Bee Gees, 1977 version; (Romans 5.6-8)? Would you share your assets with those from a different tribe? What is “maturity” in Christ, anyway (Ephesians 4.13)?

Lots to review with the Holy Spirit and learn in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps chief is what comprises a curriculum for new believers. This is especially important when we remember that may would return to foreign countries, named in Acts 2.5-12. Let’s examine what the Holy Spirit said through Peter to the crowd that brought some to faith in Jesus.

Let me illustrate the foundational point with a brief story. An American friend went to India on a mission trip last year. He states that he gained the right to talk about Jesus when he informed his listener that he had traveled halfway around the world just to speak with him about Jesus. Rapt attention for understanding connected my friend’s words to those which the Holy Spirit had planted in the Indian.

Acts 2.21-23 states that the Holy Spirit spoke similar words through Peter; that God sent “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you” for the “determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” that He would pay the price for sin. The Eastern ear heard that God care very deeply for them. Paul gives us a practical rationale for this in Hebrews 2.14-15.

Peter’s quotation of Joel 2.28-32 gave such knowledge great understanding, especially Acts 2.21: “’And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Perhaps, it was verse 24that convinced them: “’ God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that [Jesus] should be held by it.’” That is the same powerful message that Paul uses with the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, in Acts 17.30-31. Peter states this same in Acts 2.36, calling for action in verse 38.

These would be the initial messages that these ‘new evangelists’ would take back in their native tongues. But, before they returned, they would witness the Holy Spirit healing a paralytic through Peter and John (Acts 3.1-10) and hear Peter explain that healing comes from faith in the name ‘Jesus’ (Acts 3.16 & 4.12, 19-20; Acts 2.21). Also, the daily teaching in Solomon’s Portico and in the houses of believers would discuss the fundamentals of John 3.16-21 (another message about God’s love and about individual accountability) and John 14.6( the exclusivity of faith in Jesus for eternal life; the traditions of man—artificial, secondary environments—do not count) and that Jesus fulfilled OT prophesies (Matthew 5.17-20)

In the foreknowledge of the Holy Spirit, He knew that the hospitality for new believers would burden their hosts who provided room and board. So, He called upon those He had already prepared with financial capabilities (Acts 2.44-47). Acts 4.32-37 introduces Barnabas as an illustration of this; one who owned property, perhaps, in Cyprus. Another reality about the Holy Spirit is revealed here; that He organized the distribution of funds through the church. Perhaps, the church leaders had asked experienced followers of Christ to provide space and food for one or more new believers. The point: there is no disorder with God (1 Corinthians 14.33).

But, some new believers, Ananias and Sapphira, thought they might get the glory through dishonesty. Their sad warning is in Acts 5.1-11. The warning was that the new believers should never try to outsmart the Omniscient God! Neither should we. Our motives must be pure, because God already knows (Proverbs 20.27: “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (mind)”). He sees in the dark and knows lies from truth! Proverbs 4.23!

There is another warning for Christians in A&S’s example. Remember that artificial, secondary environments/cultures still occupy much of the mindset and thinking of new believers. They have not yet displaced the cloud of the artificial to reveal God’s natural and unalienable environment. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 13.18-22. Such nefarious schemes of satan must be pointed out to new believers, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 2.11 and Ephesians 6.10-20.

Remember that Jesus’ Great Commission says that new believers are to be baptized “‘into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’” Then, and equally important, they are to be taught the meaning of ‘into’ the name ‘Jesus’ (Matthew 28.19-20; Romans 5.1-5). This is what happened immediately following Pentecost. This must be our model, especially, for socially-distracted youth and adults today.

Only Two Communities to God 190728-0804 (* = update)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019.