When I observe how a large number of professing, American "Christians" behave on Facebook, I have to conclude that many worship at the altars of Nationalism, Politics, and Fear.
Having Jesus as their mascot, a few out-of-context "proof texts", and the talking points of their favorite "news" outlet appears to be their way of justifying hatred, racism, violence, oppression, and war. Their version of "Jesus" has them thirsty for political clout, military might, and the destruction of their enemies. Sick stuff.
Matthew 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world (the entire Kosmos) unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” - 2 Cor. 5:19
What if all are in, but not all are actively receiving and enjoying the benefits? Did our prayer or decision cause us to be crucified with Christ or seated in heavenly places IN HIM? Does our decision somehow inject us into Christ or are we simply cooperating with His finished work?
The True Meaning of the Word "Gospel" and the Dangers of Premillennial Dispensationalism...
Anyone who truly understands the meaning of the word "Gospel" (euaggelion), knows that you can't have a Gospel without a LIVING, REIGNING KING. "Euaggelion" (Gospel) does not find its origin in religion. When any First Century Roman Citizen heard "Gospel" they understood it as a newsflash relating to: The Birth of a Caesar (king), The Triumphal Military Victory of a Caesar (king), or a Regime Change...where a New Caesar (king) was coronated. It had everything to do with THE KING and nothing to do with "heaven and hell" or any other components of what the term "Gospel" has come to mean in many Evangelical circles. While many Evangelicals teach COMPONENTS of the Gospel, few understand THE KING (of The Commonwealth of The Israel of God who are In Christ/Abraham's Seed) and HIS KINGDOM as its crux. To proclaim THE GOSPEL was (and is) to declare, "Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not!" That's why there was so much pushback from the political leaders and their religious pawns of that day!
Bottom Line: Believe The Gospel! The King was BORN! The King defeated all of His enemies! The Regime Change was inaugurated by His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and destruction of the Old Covenant system in 70 A.D. His Kingdom came, is coming, and shall come! That which was INAUGURATED around 2,000 years ago shall one day be fully consummated, as God's New Heaven and New Earth project comes to its completion! That's precisely why He taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, They Will be done, on Earth (visible realm) as it is in Heaven (invisible realm)."
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
That Kingdom, Government, and Peace were initiated by Jesus LONG AGO; and are now dwelling in a people who rule and reign through Love; not fear, war, and the ways of earthly, sensual, and devilish empire!
What happens when people don't understand "THE GOSPEL", fulfilled History/Prophecy, and the Dynamics of His Present Kingdom?
They spend millions of dollars to send Jewish people to "Israel" while believing that 2/3rds of them will be violently destroyed in a soon-coming, "Great Tribulation". It's cruel and sick, but it's what Premillennial Dispensationalists do and promote.
They spend 3.8 BILLION+, each year, to fund a murderous, thieving, oppressive, racist, Apartheid regime because they believe that the Old Covenant system must be resurrected and the finished work of Christ simply wasn't enough.
They sacrifice The Beatitudes on the altar of Darby, Scofield, Larkin, Ice, LaHaye, Hagee, and friends. "Love your enemies" becomes "Use Empire to Kill your perceived enemies under the guise of Romans 13 and prophecy being fulfilled."
Many hold to this belief system (Premillennial Dispensationalism) with great sincerity and even greater ignorance (as yours truly once did), but it's time to study HISTORY (Especially the works of Flavius Josephus), along with the works of scholars outside of your traditional echo chambers. It's high time to stop superimposing that horrible Premillennial Dispensationalist lens over the Text of the Bible! I wouldn't be so adamant about this if it wasn't literally and needlessly KILLING dreams, hopes, and millions of PEOPLE!
Those who project fulfilled History and Prophecy into the present and future do so at the high cost of so many lives which are snuffed out through violence or greatly discouraged and depressed through fear and hopelessness.
Meanwhile, The True Gospel remains and awaits all who will embrace His HOPE!
Ephesians 3:21 "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
-An absolute impossibility if a revived, "National Israel" takes the place of the ONE NEW MAN/The Israel of God (The expansion of Israel if you will)...made up of Jew (first) and Gentile. What part of "all ages" and "without end" don't you understand?
Matt 5:18 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
If heaven and earth haven't passed away, it is imperative that we begin sacrificing animals, stoning adulterers, and following the Law to its letter.
What did "heaven and earth" mean to every First Century Jew? Simple Answer: The Temple...which passed away (destroyed by the Romans) in AD 70. Conclusion: "Heaven and earth" passed away LONG AGO!
We're NOT living in "The Last Days", "The Last Hour", or "The End of The Ages".
Hebrews 9:26 “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, ONCE AT THE END OF THE AGES (of Old Covenant Israel), He HAS (past tense) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Acts 2:16 "But THIS IS THAT (First Century Present, not 2,000+ years into the future) which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS (THOSE last days of Old Covenant Israel, prior to 70 A.D.), saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (Figurative Hebrew language speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, Old Covenant Israel, The Levitical Priesthood and its practices...to include animal sacrifices. Such figurative language is common in the Old Testament and was not taken or fulfilled literally. The ancient Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, will give you the "play-by-play" if you study his writings.) 21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Delivered from the wrath to come in 70 A.D.. Jesus gave detailed instructions as to how and where they were to flee..."the mountains"/Pella).
1 John 2:18 "Children, IT IS THE LAST HOUR (First Century Present, Not Future); and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that IT IS (First Century Present, Not Future) THE LAST HOUR (Of Old Covenant Israel). 19 They went out from us, but they were not [really] of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but [they went out,] in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father."
It was "out with the old and temporal" and "in with the new and eternal"! We're a NEW CREATION living in a NEW HEAVEN and NEW EARTH which has been FULLY inaugurated, but not yet consummated! It's time to usher in more of THE NEW DAY, instead of worrying about DOOMSDAY!
Cain's pride and failure to properly interact with (and receive from) his brother, in order to obtain what was pleasing to the Lord, sent him down the road of jealousy, hatred, and murder.
God's problem with Cain wasn't that he farmed fruits and vegetables instead of livestock. God never suggested an occupational change. He was looking for a heart change that exemplified brotherly love, mutual respect, and interdependence.
Cain, the firstborn, had somewhat of a twisted Messiah complex. He was bent on being a "One-Man-Show" in a human family that required interdependence and a healthy reliance upon "every joint of supply" (See Ephesians 4:16).
Jesus, our one true Messiah and Pattern, exemplifies interdependence upon the Father and the Holy Spirit, along with the rest of His human family! We do well to function in like manner.
Refuse any mindset that ever places you outside of God or God outside of you. Stop living as a New Creation Person with an Old Covenant, Adamic mentality. Asking God to "be with us" or attempting to "enter His Presence" is an extreme insult to the finished work of Christ.
His Presence is always a given. His Manifest Presence is enjoyed, through our fixed position in Him, as we receive His Love, bask in His Love, and respond to His Love. All things are of Him, through Him, to Him, and in Him! God was in Christ reconciling the ENTIRE KOSMOS to Himself!
As with all relationships, we must acknowledge, practice and enjoy His Presence in order to grow in our experience of His Presence. His Presence is constant. Our acknowledgment of His Presence is the variable.
Enter His Presence? Ditch the Old Covenant language and enjoy the Christ Life! We don't have to call Him down, conjure Him up, or enter His Presence. No religious buildings, ceremonies, fetishes, secret passwords, keys, codes, strategies, or gymnastic performances are required! I AM already IS...in us, upon us, and everywhere around us! There's no place where I AM is not! Pray, Live, Laugh, Cry and Love in and from the incomparable, exquisite Beauty, Peace, Faith, and Glory of the "In Christ" I AM realm!
The 501c3 middleman can be a tremendous hindrance to blessing hurting people one-on-one. Personal ministry requires personal finance. For the most part, institutions aren't in touch with those within your spheres of influence. You are!
Money is a great way to show Love and Hospitality, but it's hard for many to bless their neighbors when they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and the religious system is sucking their "expendable" income dry. Wealthy people have "neighbors" (see Luke 10:25-37) that the middleman doesn't serve well either.
I'll save the blog entry about people constantly "sowing their best seed" under fear, guilt, compulsion, and the guise of a guaranteed "100-fold return" for another day.
The New Testament does not teach that the institution is "The Best Ground for your Best Seed", nor does it teach that a building is "The House of God", or that the "tithe" for an expired Levitical Priesthood belongs to a special, modern class of holy men and the upkeep of holy buildings.
Tithes are mentioned by Jesus only once (Matthew 23:23 & Luke 11:42- Same Story), while He was addressing people who were still functioning under the Old Covenant (before the cross), and by Paul in Hebrews 7...as he was speaking of an old system which was passing away, and would be completely non-existent once the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Herod's Temple in 70 A.D.. In his epistles, Paul encouraged Loving, Spirit-led, generous giving, but never "tithing" of fruits, vegetables, grain, wine, money, or anything else.
Added Note: This blog entry is meant to promote GENEROSITY and Loving our neighbors. Stinginess and selfishness most certainly aren't Christ-like traits. I'm also not saying that tax-deductible donations are inherently evil...or anything like that. We give to 501c3s that are reaching people in places where we can't go. They have their place, but they're most definitely not the automatic, Biblical default setting.
Peace & Love!