Flood the World

martin_john_-_the_deluge_-_1834

Continuing on thoughts from my last post.

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_-_Appearance_Behind_Locked_Doors_-_WGA06734

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

huddled in fear

Jesus disciples were huddled, locked in fear in a closed room.  They feared  the Jews, the Judeans.  After all, they had crucified Jesus.  Who knew if some of the chief priests and scribes might come looking again, maybe one of them would be next.

peace be with you 1

But Jesus comes into the room and says to them "Peace be with you."   Doesn't knock, doesn't come through the door, doesn't pass through the walls.  He's just there, standing among them.  By his presence, he makes the impossible possible and brings peace into that frightened room.

refugeees

His disciples were locked in fear of the Judeans, afraid they might be next.  We like to lock ourselves up in fear of plenty, don't we?  Who are we living in fear of?   Are we afraid of Muslims, afraid that in every mosque there is a terror attacking waiting to happen?  Are we afraid of immigrants, afraid that they may be immigrating to our land of immigrants for the wrong reasons   Are we afraid of refugees?   Maybe we're afraid of liberals, because whichever talking head we listen to says it's all their fault.  Are we afraid of conservatives, because the talking heads we listen to say it's all their fault??

 

Are we afraid of sinners??   Or maybe the big, bad world?   Are we just trying to get through every crappy day hoping to make it to next Sunday, when at least we can get together behind the closed doors of our own religious panic room, and at least for an hour or two feel protected from this evil world??

zombies

For some of us, this is what we are inviting people into when we talk about Christianity.  We think the good news means that we have a safe place to hide from all those evil zombies walking about all around us, just waiting for the chance to eat us alive.

glad

But let me make this plain, simple, and easy.   The Good News in NOT inviting people to share our fear and join us in our religious panic room.   Those disciples in their locked room had no Good News to share.  No one wanted to come join them in their fear.  But when Jesus breaks into that room and says "Peace be with you," things change.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.    How many of us are glad to see the Lord?

peace be with you
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."”

The-Commission

All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, have some form of the Great Commission.   This is John's version of the Great Commission.  "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."    There's that phrase again, "peace be with you."   And Jesus commissions is disciples to go out into the world.   They were not commissioned to stay in that locked room, live in fear, and shut themselves off from the world around them.   No…Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, the same Holy Spirit he received at his baptism, the same power by which he went into the world, without fear, and brought the good news of the kingdom of God.   He bestows his own Holy Spirit onto the disciples, and tells them - If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.

forgiveness

As I said, this is the great commission according to the Gospel, the good news, of John.   Again, let's simplify.  Jesus tells his disciples that as the father sent him, he is sending them, and bestows the spirit of God upon them.  But not only that, he gives them the power to forgive sins - If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.   Do not miss this.   Jesus commissions his disciples, gives them the Holy Spirit, and sends them into the world specifically to forgive sins.

forgiven-jesus20forgives
As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.   Gospel 101.  Jesus came for the forgiveness of sins, did he not?   So he sends out his disciples for the forgiveness of sins.   Never forget who or what the Holy Spirit is.  Jesus gives his Holy Spirit, the spirit of advocacy, the spirit of walking with someone.   The spirit of aiding and helping.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.   The mission, or co-mission, of the followers of Jesus is to walk the world fearlessly flooding the world with peace and forgiveness.   This is the what and why Jesus sends his disciples out of that locked room for.

give

Yet we are afraid.  Maybe this makes you afraid.  Maybe we are afraid that someone who does not deserve it might receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.   (Did you hear that?).   Maybe we are afraid of giving away what we have received so freely.   Don't worry about giving away free stuff you received freely!!!   What did Jesus tell us?   “…Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8 NIV.

2013 Faith Church Final Words father forgive

Jesus speaking peace and sending disciples into world with a commission to forgive should speak powerfully to us. We are sent by Jesus not to rage, not to moralize, not to reprimand, but to forgive sinners in Jesus' name.   Jesus own words dying on the cross were "Father Forgive them."   What, exactly, do you think the Father does when Jesus prays this to him??   He forgives!!

send-me

But what about that next part, if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.   Well, what else is the to say about withheld forgiveness?   It is withheld!!   But why would you withhold forgiveness?   Don't withhold forgiveness!!  Be as generous with forgiveness as Jesus is with you.  Be as generous with forgiveness as you would like Jesus to be with you.

Saint Francis of Assisi
G.K. Chesterton said this about St. Francis if Assisi – "He walked the world as the pardon of God."   This is how we are to walk.  As followers of Christ, if we allow Jesus close enough to us to breathe his Holy Spirit on us, the we have the spirit of advocacy, the spirit of God to go into the world as Jesus did for the forgiveness of sins.

blame game.jpg

There is a game we play.  This game has no end.  It has no winners.  It has only victims.  But we keep playing anyway.  The game is called the blame game.   It is the devil's game.  Who is the devil?  It comes from the Greek word "diablos", just as Satan comes from the Hebrew "ha-satan".  They both mean the same thing – "the accuser".  The adversary.  The blamer.

satan-accuser

Most of the wars, most of the hate, most of the pain in the world can be traced to the blame game.  It's how the devil rules the world to this day.  All the way back, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the disease infected their their family to the point that Cain blamed Abel so much he had to kill him.  And it's the game running the fallen world ever since.

 

But at the cross, Jesus took all the blame.   He took all the blame and cried out "Father forgive them.

Now it's our job to flood the world with His forgiveness.

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."”
John 20:19-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.20.19-23.esv

John Lewis

By His Breath

By His Breath

Jesus breathed

Going back to the evening of the first Easter.   The hope that the kingdom of God would come into the world through the person of Jesus of Nazareth had come to a horrible, tragic, scandalous end.   For his disciples, one of their own had caused this, had sold out their master for money.   Then that disciple had himself gone out and committed suicide.

locked room

This day, their had been lots of talk, lots of rumors going around about the tomb being empty.   But for Jesus disciples, they were staying behind locked doors, because after all, Jesus had been killed.  You never could know who might be next…

jesus-appears-to-his-disciples-in-a-locked-room

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 

peace-be-with-you-1
They are cowering in fear, but suddenly Jesus is there!!   He doesn't unlock the door, he doesn't knock, he's just there, with them.  And what are the first words Jesus speaks to his disciples after he had been crucified and buried while they had scattered?   "Peace be with you." 
peace be with you
Jesus' first words to his frightened disciples on that resurrection night, his first words to the new world, the first words we should hear from him are "Peace be with you." 

jesus stood among them

There was no peace in that room.   There was only fear, sorrow, anxiety, uncertainty…but with the presence of the risen Christ, peace flows into the room.  Jesus breaks into their rear and anxiety and brings peace.   Just three days earlier, they had all seen their teacher arrested.  At least one of them had stuck around long enough to see the gruesome finish that Friday afternoon.  They are now back together, huddled in fear in a licked room, determined only to keep everybody else, that big bad angry world out.   But Jesus shows up, and the impossible becomes possible.  He brings peace into that room.

Jesus-Baptized-07
Jesus brings peace into that room, then he breathes on his disciples the Holy Spirit - And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.   So Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit onto his disciples in that locked room, and sent them out into the world.  Which Holy Spirit would that be??   “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."” Luke 3:21-22 ESV.  The exact same Holy Spirit which came upon Jesus at his own baptism is the Holy Spirit which he breathed upon his disciples in that locked room.  The rest, you might say, is the history of Christianity.

holy_spirit3s

It's the same Holy Spirit he can still breathe on us in our locked rooms, if only we would allow him to get near enough to breathe it upon us.   Jesus breathing this Holy Spirit on his disciples then sending them out into that big, bad, scary world commissioned to forgive should speak powerfully to us today.   We may living in a locked room with our fear, our sorrow, our uncertainty, our anxiety, but Jesus simply says "Peace be with you."   He can say this because he is the one, simply by his presence, who can make the impossible possible and bring peace into our own locked room.
Jesus_standing
He's standing right there.  Do you see him?  Can you feel him?  Will you let him close enough to breathe upon you?

To be continued…

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."”
John 20:19-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.20.19-23.esv

John Lewis

What a Hope!!

What a Hope!!

hope
I've been offline for a week, and need reminding myself sometimes of the great hope we have.  So, again, from the prophet Isaiah, as the poet prophet brings to an end his scroll with a prophetic vision of the end we are all moving towards.

glory of god
For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.   In Isaiah 65, we see the vision of God creating the heavens and the earth all over again - For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth…I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.    God is still creating, it is our privilege and our responsibility, if we call ourselves Christians, to be working with Him towards this new creation.   His new creation, his holy city called Jerusalem, the peace of God, is to be a joy, not a curse to the world, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues.   When Isaiah wrote this prophecy, the time was coming.  As we read it 2700 years later…we know it is no longer the time is coming, it is the time has come!!   Christ has come!!  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!!   For Isaiah, the time was coming to gather all the nations, for us we have been commissioned for 2000 years to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19 ESV.  We are tasked to be the ones to gather all nations and tongues.  We are called be disciples of Jesus Christ, to walk in his steps, to follow him.  We are called to be the glory that they will see.

survivors to the nations
And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.    Or, as Jesus said, “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” Mark 13:10 ESV.   While we might think the world is a lost cause, it is exactly those lost causes Jesus came for.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."” Luke 19:10 ESV.  In fact, he's more interested in the lost than he is in those who are already found.  “"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 ESV.  Jesus came seeking his lost sheep.  If we are following him, this is the job he has given us, to find these lost sheep and bring them into his fold.  To Tarshish, Pul and Lud.  To Tubal and Javan.  To the coastlands far away.  We have seen his glory.  There was a time when we could not look at the face of God, only his backside.   “Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live."” Exodus 33:18-20 ESV.   We have always wanted to see his glory, we still say show me your glory.   Isaiah tells us the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues.    We are good with that, right??  We are ready to go share the gospel with the nations and all the languages.  We have plans and ambitions to make this happen.   But Isaiah also tells  And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.    

Transfiguration
Moses wanted to see the glory of God, but was not allowed to see the face of God.   But 700 years after Isaiah, the apostle John would write to us “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 ESV.  There was a time when we could not see the glory of God, only his backside.   But – did Moses ever get to see the face of God??  “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matthew 17:2-3 ESV.   Christ was transfigured before them, shining like the sun.  And up on Mount Tabor, Moses finally gets to see the glory of God, not just his backside.

show me your glory
There was a time when we could not see the face of God, a time when his glory was held back from us.  The law came through Moses, who was not able to see the face of God.  But that time has passed. We have seen the glory of God.  He came to earth and walked among us, showing us The Way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

death and destruction
And so we have a story to tell.  It is in the story that salvation comes to a broken world.  Because while we do live in a broken world, we do not live in a condemned world.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17 ESV.  So while we might like to condemn our broken world to a grisly end of death and destruction, the LORD we serve does not.  He sent his own son to us in order that he might reestablish us in his own image, show us what that image really looks like.   The glory of God is seen in Jesus Christ.

shine-like-stars
That glory is what we seek.  And as we work with Christ to bring about his New Jerusalem, we begin to shine with Him.  “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 ESV.  We show the world His glory in the hopes that we will walk in that glory, shining like Christ did on the Mount of transfiguration when Moses was finally shown the glory of God.

And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 66:18-23 ESV.  This is the hope we have, that we will work with Christ and his Holy Spirit to create the new heavens and the new earth.   What a hope it is!!
clouds of heaven

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
Mark 13:26-27 ESV

“"For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.”
Isaiah 66:18-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/isa.66.18-23.esv

John Lewis

Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect

cause-and-effect-essays

From the scroll of Isaiah, a vision of the end times. Isaiah gives us a vision not of death and destruction, doom and gloom. He gives us a vision of peace, a vision of joy, a vision of hope.

New-heavens-and-new-earth

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.In the end, we will have a new heaven and a new earth. It says I create– God, Yahweh, is still creating. He is the creator God, creator of heaven and earth. He is still in the business of creation, not destruction. His creation was, and is, good, good and very good. But he is not finished. He is still building. He is still creating. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. Jerusalem, "the peace of God", is created to be a joy. In Revelation 21 we see the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem being formed on the earth, God joining with man, living with his creation. This new Jerusalem is what Jerusalem was always intended to be, "the peace of God", which the apostle Paul tells us surpasses all understanding, a peace which we as yet have no comprehension of. Yet this is the peace which, if we are living as disciples of Christ and living out his great commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."”Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This great commission to make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. We forget (or maybe never heard) that in both Exodus and Revelation, we are called to be a "kingdom of priests", and in Revelation it goes on to say we shall "reign on the earth". We are to not just share the Gospel, but to make disciples of all nations.  It's going to take far more than the work of Jonah, going in because we feel compelled, sharing the message of God, then getting angry that the message may or may not have been heard. We are not called to simply share the good news. We are called to make disciples of all nations. Russia. China. South Korea. North Korea. Mexico. India. The United Stated of America.

kingdom of priests
We are his kingdom of priests, called to make disciples of all the nations. Disciples to Jesus Christ. Disciples to the way of peace, love, and above all forgiveness. We are joined with God, Yahweh, through his one true Son in the project of building the new heavens and the new earth. It is upon our completion of this project, with the ever present help of Christ through the Holy Spirit, that we will see Christ coming again. What I'm saying here is that I think we have our cause and effect backward. We are to make disciples of all nationsto Jesus Christ. We tell ourselves that there will never be peace on earth until Christ returns. So we are then to just wait, make sure we make our "fair share" of converts, live our lives as best we can, and hope that if Christ returns tomorrow we will be among those taken and not among those "left behind" (which, by the way, is a MASSIVELY TRAGIC misreading and misunderstanding of Jesus' Olivet discourse).

make disciples
But I'm saying that it's the other way around. We are not waiting for Christ's return in the hope that there will finally be peace on earth. We are called, again, to make disciples of all nations. Not just read the verses, then turn and run. Jesus Christ himself was the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The Jewish people, and indeed the whole world, already had the Hebrew Scriptures. It's all in there. If that were enough to get the job done, Jesus would have never come in his incarnation. The point is, we have the Bible. It's all in there. But it is not enough. It's not enough to know the Bible, it's not enough to be able to teach what the Bible says, it's not enough to share the Bible with the world. Just sharing the Bible does not make disciples to Jesus Christ. It will not make disciples of all nations. The only way to bring about the new Jerusalem, to participate in the project of creating the new heaven and new earth, the only way to bring about the return of Jesus Christ in glory, is to follow him. We must do as he told us. We must live as he showed us!! It is not enough to 'tell' people about Jesus. We must 'show' them the Christ in our own lives. We must be the Christ in their lives.  

fishers of men
“And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:38‬ ‭ESV‬‬. " Jes“Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:21-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."”‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. I share these verses just as a small sampling of what Jesus taught and showed. But the message we learn from his life is that God is love. We must be the embodied expression of that love in the lives of people here and now. Because this is how we make disciples of all the nations – by showing God's love to the world around us, one person, one believer at a time.

The-Wages-Of-Sin-Is-Death
Because it won't be Jesus second coming that will bring peace on earth. It will be peace on earth that brings the second coming of Christ. We are the instruments of that peace. We've followed the first Adam into sin and death long enough. Yes our world is a broken, sinful world. The apostle Paul told us – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The wages of sin is death, have we not figured this out yet? We know it, we say it, but then we just don't see it. Christ at the cross paid the wages of the sin in the world in his own death. Yet we keep sacrificing all the Abel's of the world at the altar of our own sinful world systems. Blood continues to cry from the ground…we just turn up the radio louder so we don't have to hear it. The endless cycle of recycled revenge is the cycle we choose. We don't get mad, we get even. We do unto others as they've done to us. Sometimes we do unto others before they do unto us. 50,000,000 dead in WWII. Hundreds of millions in various wars in China. The wages of sin is death. Tens of millions killed by the conquest of the Americas after its discovery by Columbus. The endless parade of dead bodies, blood on our hands. Just google wars and death tolls. We fight fight, fight because we are right and they are wrong. The wages of sin is death.

free gift of god
We've followed the first Adam into disobedience, sin, death and destruction long enough. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So we now lead the world in following the second Adam. It's not enough to tell them, we must show them. If it were enough to tell about it, Jesus never had to come. But God had to show us what the fulfillment of his law and prophets looks like. He had to show us what He looks like. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God looks like Jesus. It is in the resurrection of Christ that God the Father affirms – "That's it!! That's how you do it!!" So we follow Jesus, we show Jesus to the world around us. We make disciple one person at a time, until our project is completed to make disciples of all nations.

jesus-second-coming
We participate with him to make way for the second coming of the Lord. Of course, he never actually left us.
“"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain," says the Lord.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭65:17-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.65.17-25.esv

“and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭19:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/exo.19.6.esv
“and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rev.5.10.esv

John Lewis

Real Authority!!

Real Authority!!

real authority

With Jesus having finished his sermon on the mount, Matthew adds these words to let us know the immediate effect the Jesus great talk had on those who heard him.
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

jm_200_NT1.pd-P13.tiff
No one had ever heard teaching like this before. “You have heard it said…but I say…” was Jesus’ letting all who would hear him know that he indeed had authority, the authority to override and expand upon the teachings of Moses, the teaching that had guided the Hebrew people during, through and since the Exodus. All the scribes and teachers before him could do was cite, or recite, the teachings of others who had come before them. But Jesus came boldly, declaring the kingdom of God had arrived in their midst. He was in effect saying “Watch and see that what I say is true. See for yourself the the reign and rule of God has come among ordinary human beings.”

i_am_the_way_the_truth_and_the_life_5x7area_rug
Even during his earthly ministry, during his life as we know it, the decision for or against the rule of God hung together with the decision for or against himself. The presence of the logic, the logos, the incarnation and presence of Jesus among his creation, before and after his death and resurrection, means that God’s reign and rule is here now. The immediate expectation of the kingdom of God had (and still has) been fulfilled. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV

with you always

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For those hearing Jesus speak his sermon, the true son of God was present with them. Just as he is present with us. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. As C.S. Lewis puts it “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into the live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.

Born-again
Jesus’ words and presence gave (and continues to give) many of his hearers faith to see that when he acted, God also acted. The rule of God was coming into play, the kingdom of God was at hand. They were aware of the invisible presence of God acting within the visible reality and action of Jesus. Not all who heard, or hear, believed. Not everyone will be aware of this invisible presence acting through our visible realities. As Jesus told Nicodemus that late night, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV. Not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. The ability to see the world again as a child. ‬‬”Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

image of the invisible god
Sometimes we’ve just become so wise and so smart that we just can’t see the kingdom of God. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The image of the invisible God, the exact imprint of his nature. When we see Jesus, we see God. We think we know so much, but we can’t even see his work in our own lives. He seems so far away to us, being seated at the right hand of the father, that we think he just can’t be with us always.

at hand
But the thing we miss is that, yes, Jesus is both at the right hand of the Father, having power and dominion over all the nations, and is with you always, to the end of the age. Because heaven is not a far away destination to which we are going. Heaven is not some place out there, “turn right at the Hubble telescope, take the left at the second moon of Saturn, and just fly straight to the fifth galaxy, and you’ve come to the kingdom of heaven!” No, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I don’t understand it, it is beyond all my powers of comprehension. I am not meant to understand it. The only way for me to perceive it at all is to be born again and see it as one of the little children. Because God, creator of the universe, is the creator. He made creation, he is immersed in creation. But he is not a part of his creation. This is why we will never, empirically, be able to prove or disprove the existence of God. Because just as we might create a swimming pool, and immerse ourselves in that pool, we will never be a part of that pool. So it is with God, and Jesus His only son. They created, but they are not part of creation. This us the profundity of the incarnation of Christ, that he came and joined us, joined in his creation, became a part of us.

crucifixion-of-jesus-christ-2
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. He is seated at the right hand of the father, and is with you always. Yes, he is both, at the same time, right here and right now. We will never be able to prove, He can not be measured as part of creation. He is creator, not created. He is the one who was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. The one with all authority under heaven and on earth.

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.7.28-29.esv

John Lewis

Leaking Foudations

Water damaged and moldy basement wall

Jesus, the great civil engineer, talking about foundations of rock and foundations of sand.

house on the rock

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

water issues
I’ve been told that every house has water issues. There is nothing you can do about it. Water is going to come. Whether these water “issues” becomes the ruin of a house depends on what systems are in place for dealing with that water.

caught in a storm
So it is with the storms of life. We can run, but we can’t hide. In this life, in this broken world, we will be tried. We will be tested. There will be storms to rock and challenge our foundations. These storms can (and will) come from every direction, in every form we can imagine. Jesus captures that for us with the pictures he paints in our mind. And the rain fell – we can be attacked from above. And the floods came – the attacks can come from underneath us. And the winds blew and beat on that house – attacks can blow in from every direction. As Jesus himself had said before – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. These days, we think we know where it’s coming from and where it’s going, yet still, the wind can just come and blow us away. We hear it’s sound, we know it’s there, we even know it’s coming. But there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

jesus-christ-images-3
But we can build our house on the rock. And as Paul told us in his letter to the Corinthians – For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Christ is our rock. He is our foundation. We come to him in faith, we profess our faith openly to him. Then we follow.

jonah-and-the-whale
We follow because we believe. Not just an external belief, but we believe in our hearts that Christ rose from the dead. We believe Christ rose from the dead, therefore we have our sign that he knew what he was talking about. “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew‬ ‭12:39-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of the unwilling prophet, the Queen of Sheba came seeking the wisdom of Solomon. We are judged by the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba, because we have the sign of Jonah. Jesus spent three days in the belly of the earth, he has been vindicated by the father as being greater than Jonah and wiser than Solomon. So, we believe in our hearts Jesus was raised from the dead, and we listen to him.

rock was christ

We don’t know where, when or how these storms will come. They could be a natural disaster to test our resolve, our faith in God, our trust in him. We could get a flirty new coworker who’s not so hard on the eyes (or ego). We might (will) be challenged this week simply driving to work. The storms and temptations of life will come. Is your foundation built on the rock? Will your house be the one that did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. The rock that is Jesus Christ.

road rage
Have you overcome your anger so that you don’t wind up plucked off at 80 mph?? Have you stopped looking at people as objects to be used, or stopped being controlled by your lust and desire, so that every pretty face, handsome smile, or flirty wink and smile might cause water to begin seeping in? Are you ready to dump people at the nearest exit as soon as they don’t fill some need or desire in your life? Are you ready to carpet bomb the entire Middle East because you disagree with someone on CNN?
Or – are will willing to return good for evil. To return forgiveness instead of vengeance. To put the needs and desires above our own. Even if we don’t understand their needs or desires?? Are we willing to pray for those who offend us? Do we believe in forgiveness seventy times seven? Or will we take vengeance seven times over? If I stomp your toe, can I expect a broken leg in return?

violence
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Will we seek vengeance, or pray for our enemies? Are we generous, or only seeking attention? Do we believe God sent his son to save the world, or only that part of the world that looks and acts like us?? Our salvation depends on the answers to these questions. Eternity does not begin when we die – our eternal life begins the say we are born into this broken world. Will we spend our days working with Jesus to bring his new Jerusalem? Or will we spend our time participating with hell on earth and leave that new Jerusalem and God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven to some other generation?

abundant life.jpg
Jesus gave us a way to live life that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Do we believe him? Or are we those whose foundation us built on sand? Those who say the sinners prayer, check that box, claim for ourselves “once saved, always saved”, yet are just hearers, and not doers, of his word? Are we really just about fulfilling our own desires in Jesus’ name?

abide in him
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

 

“”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭ESV

‬‬http://bible.com/59/mat.7.24-27.esv
“…For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

‬‬

John Lewis

“Cogito Ergo Sum”

Cogito-Ergo-Sum-Cat-e1403041889132

“I think, therefore I am.” Or in Latin – “Cogito ergo sum.” As it first appeared in French – “donc je suis.” A well meaning man’s effort to get to the basic of being, of exactly who we are. Rene Descartes was a devout Catholic and believer in the resurrected Christ, but Descartes wanted to be able to know. He wanted to know beyond all doubt why he was here, and that he existed. So, the cogito, as it came to be know, became the basis for just about all modern western philosophy. We believed, and maybe still believe, that this gave us a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. A fuller version was later given, “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.” While all other knowledge could be an illusion, imagination, lie, or just wrong, Descartes asserted that as long as one doubts one’s own existence, that at least proved the existence of the mind which doubted, which thereby proves the existence of the entity which has the mind which doubted. It proved the existence of self. And so the enlightenment was born, and we’ve being seeing the world through the lens of our self ever since.

descartes_i_think____theref
But there is one problem with Rene Descartes revelation. Descartes expressed his thought, indeed thought his thought, “Cogito ergo sum,” in a language. Whether it was originally thought in Latin or French, I do not know the inner machinations of the mind of Rene Descartes, but I do know this – he thinks, therefore he is, in a language. A language which he did not create. A language which he did not think up himself. A language which he received from someone who taught him to speak in that language. To think in that language. Because such is the nature of language.  We don’t invent, create, or make up the language we speak. We simply receive it. It is a gift given to us by the community in which we are raised. You can’t buy it.  You don’t work for it.  It is passed down to us, given to us by the society and culture in which we are raised.  It can only come from the generations that have gone before.

learning to talk
What is my point? The point is that, if we think, therefore we are, then even by that self-centered philosophy, without the community around us to give us that language to think in, we do not exist. You can not even think outside of the freely given gift of language from the community in which you were born.  Because without that language, you cannot even form a rational thought in your own mind. That language you did earn, did not work for and did not invent. You just received it, your free gift for being. So, we think therefore we are. But we don’t even exist, we are not, without that free gift of language from the community we are born into.

Glasses on Open Bible
And so it is with our Christian faith. We didn’t invent it. We didn’t make it up. We couldn’t and wouldn’t make that up anyway, would we? We receive it. Christianity, like the free gift of salvation which it offers, is only a received faith. It is passed down from generation to generation. The doctrine of the Trinity, father, God and Holy Spirit. We didn’t come up with, or invent that. That Christ died for our sins…we didn’t make that up. That we may like to go to heaven and not the gates of hell, we did not create that ourselves. We learned that, we received this hope.

justgivemejesus
Yet, so many of us claim that we can do it on our own. ‘I don’t need church, I just need Jesus.’ ‘I have my bible, I don’t need no stinking church or no stinking church people!’ To which we should ask the question, which Jesus, and what Bible? Tell me about them. Tell me about this Jesus which you have your personal relationship with.  

Moses Receiving the Law Exodus 31:18
Because everything we know, and everything we think we know, about Jesus, we know from the community of faith and believers who passed that down through the generation. You didn’t make any of it up yourself. You did not receive it through your own personal divine revelation.  It took the early church at least 400 years, with all the best and brightest minds, using all the methods they had learned from Greek and Roman philosophy, to come up with the doctrine of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ‘But its in the bible!’ Of course its in the Bible. It always was. But, without the traditions that have been handed down from the church, you would and could not pull that out of the Bible. In other words, if you had never heard of Christianity, Jesus Christ, or any of the stories, you could be locked into a room for a year with the Bible, read 8 hours a day, six days a week. And when you were finished, we could ask you to tell us about God. And you most definitively would not start explaining to us about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You would not start giving us atonement theories. You would not start explaining how we are justified by faith. It’s all in the book. But just reading it on your own, without the stories and beliefs which we have received as believers (and even as unbelievers), we would arrive at none of these conclusions on our own.

trinity
And let’s talk about the Bible. Where did it come from? You don’t need no stinking church – but who do you think created the Bible you claim to rely on? Yes, it was inspired, through 40+ writers, multiple languages, over 1500 years, by the Holy Spirit. But it was compiled, gathered, canonized, and organized by the very church which you claim you don’t need. It did not just fall from heaven into your lap.

love-one-another-crosses
Christianity is not a solo project. A lone Christian is no Christian at all. Christ’s most basic commands would be impossible. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John‬ ‭15:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So, if you don’t need or want the church, just Jesus – what, exactly, are you to with this commandment to love one another?  This is just a small sample, that command comes over and over again. And again. If you are a Lone Ranger Christian, do you just ignore this? Because it seems it would be hard to love one another without the one another. Reminds me of the old Billy Idol (an apt name) song “Dancing with myself”.

baptism
We don’t do this alone. Our Christian faith is a shared faith. The most basic, sacramental elements of our faith are communal in nature. You can’t baptize yourself, you can’t partake in the body and blood of Christ, broken for you, by yourself.

sacraments
Why would you want to do it on your own? This occurred to me on stage giving a CR lesson last Friday night, a lesson called “admit”. The apostle Paul tells us to “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬. We obey the law of Christ by sharing and carrying each other’s burdens. And we know the law of Christ – to love God and love neighbor. And of course, this little thing of love one another. But this us what came to me on stage last Friday night – that in following Paul’s command of sharing each other’s burdens, we accept Jesus’ invitation to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We, the church, are all part of the body of Christ, correct? Correct! So, when we share each other’s burdens, when you share what’s burdening you with your brother or sister, you are sharing that burden with Jesus Christ himself. The way we come to him, is by coming to his body, the church. You come to the church by coming to the individual members, one another.

confess you sins
James, the half brother of Jesus, tells us “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Again, that one another thing. This is how we find healing, how we begin to walk in the light of Christ and our own salvation. This is where healing begins!! We come to each other, one another, we pray for and with each other. We can not do it alone. We weren’t made to walk alone. I don’t care what your radio tells you.

come to me

Accept Jesus’ invitation.  If you are laboring, heavy laden, weary, he will give you rest.  Take his yoke upon you.  It’s where you will find rest for your soul.  Come to church, find the body of Christ, find rest for you souls.  Our yoke is easy, our burden is light.

come unto me
Cogito ergo sum. Except that without the community to walk with you, give you that language, pass down that faith, you can’t even think on your own. About God, Jesus, or anything else.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.11.28-30.esv
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jas.5.16.esv
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/gal.6.2.nlt

John Lewis