A Parable of Faithful Ministry

The Beginning of the Gospel

According to Mark, the gospel begins with John the Baptist, the focus of our parable.

Mark 1:1-3. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets: behold I send my messenger before your face which shall prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.                                                  

We are given two scriptures, from Isaiah 40, and from Malachi 3, from which the ministry of John the Baptist draws an anointing from the Spirit of Truth. The gospel of John tells us the ministry of John the Baptist also served as a test on the hearts of all who heard his message.

.John 1:6, 7. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness to testify of the Light that all through him might believe.

It is said of John that he was sent from God. Compare this to the answer Jesus gave to the question: what must we do to perform the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said: this is the work of God: that you believe the one whom He has sent.

The words of all who are sent by God become a basis for faith.

Ephesians 2:20.  Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.  

A Voice in the Wilderness

Jesus was asked by what authority he acted upon.

Matthew 21:24-27 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, did it come from heaven or of men? They answered Jesus, we cannot tell. And He said unto them, neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.  .

Because the chief priests and elders refused to acknowledge the ministry of John the Baptist as being sent from God, Jesus refused to answer their questions, though they had the authority to ask, for He answered to a Higher Authority.

 Matthew 21:32.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

We can see here a fulfillment of the word spoken in John 1:7, that all through him might believe. The religious leaders were denied repentance even with the witness of mighty miracles of God, because they rejected John. 

Luke 7:30.  And all the people that heard him justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves (literally ‘within themselves’), not being baptized of him.        

John 10:41, 42. And many resorted unto Him and said John did no miracles but all things that John spoke of this man were true. And many believed on Him there. 

So we see that those who received the baptism of John also remained to hear him preach. Jesus fulfilled the words spoken before by this prophet, which confirmed their faith. Those who rejected the baptism of John knew nothing of the word that he preached concerning the Christ.

The Spirit and Power of Elijah

Matthew 11:13-15.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive, this is Elijah which was to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

The relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah was a stumbling block for the Jews at the time that Jesus was ministering the gospel. When the authorities in Jerusalem sent emissaries to inquire into the baptism of John, he was asked point blank:

“Are you Elijah?” 

John 1:19-23.  He answered, I am not. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet Isaiah.                   

John again testifies to the scriptural authority and anointing for his ministry. The Holy Spirit clarifies this by a prophecy given to Zachariah by the angel who announced the child’s conception.

Luke 1:17. He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 

The angel here references a prophecy of Malachi that Jesus also alludes to in Matthew 17:11 when He said Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things.

Malachi 4:5, 6. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

Jesus understood that anyone waiting for Messiah would expect Elijah first, and he was provided in the person of John who came in “the spirit and power of Elijah”.

The Acceptable Year of the Lord

The greater stumbling block for the Jews was that the Messiah would come twice, first as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. At the end of the age He will complete all prophecy with the day of God’s wrath. Consider how he works around this issue in Luke chapter four in the synagogue of Nazareth one Sabbath day when He was chosen to read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 61.

Luke 4:18, 19. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 

After stopping the reading abruptly, he sits back down and every eye is on Him, wondering why He has stopped. He then declares, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” So why suddenly stop reading? Because Isaiah 61:2 continued, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God”. We see the first and second coming mentioned in one verse, and Jesus declaring the fulfillment of only the acceptable year of the Lord.

So why do Bible scholars claim that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years?  In  accordance with the Law of Moses, all Jewish men were required to appear “before the Lord” for three feasts. Do we really think that Jesus came to Jerusalem three times as prescribed by the Law, worked miracles, declared Himself to be the Son of God and provoked the religious authorities by calling them a generation of vipers and then said No? Okay, I’ll try again next year for the less acceptable year of the Lord round two. Once Jesus reached the age of 30, He began His ministry and fulfilled His Father’s Will. When He comes again it will the Day of the Lord.

Receive from Heaven

John 3:22-24.  After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim , because there was much water there and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.                             

There comes a point in everyone’s ministry when they must make the right decision and abide under the anointing they received for the work they were chosen to do. Two ministries are in the Judean wilderness, both baptizing. This is an awkward situation but nothing bad has come of it yet. Ultimately questions will be asked and there will be an accountability required of us.

John 3:25-27. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John and said unto him Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes and all come to him. John answered and said a person can receive only what is given them from heaven.                                                  

This discussion raises more questions than answers and demands a serious pause for consideration. John’s ministry is quickly becoming a lesson for future disciples to draw wisdom. Why does John even still have disciples? And is he now addressed as Rabbi? Notice the way they describe the Lord as “he that was with you”. Why did he not become a disciple of Jesus with the revelation he had received concerning Him?

John 3:28.  You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but rather, I am sent before Him.

Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3-29,30. He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, this my joy, therefore is fulfilled. He must increase and I must decrease.

We now come to one of the more frequently quoted verses: He must increase but I must decrease. If only that were true, John would have quietly faded into the background. We would say “whatever happened to John the Baptist, he was so prominent at first and then he just seems to disappear from the narrative.”  

Oh, that makes sense, once Jesus was baptized he had fulfilled his mission. The only lingering question would be, why did he not follow Jesus? Instead he ceases to be a voice in the wilderness and goes to Jerusalem. Notice the Bible doesn’t say “and the word of the Lord then came again unto John and said, go tell that rascal Herod he can’t have his brother’s wife.”  Maybe he was just bored, but now we find him in prison, his head soon to be placed on a platter.

Matthew 11:2, 3. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him are you He that should come or do we look for another? 

This is astonishing! John was informed of God how to identify the Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a bodily form and light on Jesus like a dove. He testified, this is the Son of God! And now he asks, “Do we look for another?” He is actually saying, if you are the Messiah, why am I in prison!? Aren’t you supposed to be restoring the kingdom of Israel, aren’t you supposed to restore the throne of David!?

The Least in the Kingdom

Matthew 11:4.  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see. 

Jesus tells John’s followers that the works of Christ speak for themselves. Then he adds another critical word for us to always consider:

Matthew 11:6.  And blessed is whosoever that shall not be offended in Me.          

This was the Lord’s pointed word to John, are you offended in me? We can never allow our own expectations to distort our understanding of what God has chosen us uniquely to have as a stewardship. John and his followers were expecting a King, not a Lamb of sacrifice.

John the Baptist teaches us that we can come out from under our anointing, we can walk and speak in the flesh what we believe to be the word of God, even quoting scripture verbatim, and there will be consequences. Condemning Herod was not kingdom business, not the Gospel message that Jesus came for: “to save the world, not condemn”.

Matthew 11:11. Truly I say unto you among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.                                                   

My beloved brethren, abide in Christ, and remain among the least of these.                    Keep a good head on your shoulders!

John 1:15.  John testified about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” 

Israel High Above All Nations

John 3:31.   He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

There is a multitude of Bible teachers who embody the notion of an earthly man that speaks of the earth while failing to lay hold of The Spirit of Truth.  A perfect example is the many teachings that refer to the early monarchy in Israel, as represented by Kings David and Solomon, being the “Golden Age” Of Israel. This view from the earth fails to identify the True Golden Age of historical Israel from the view of the One from above, who is above all. 

Joshua 24:31.  Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

Before Messiah Yeshua came to earth, this time prior to the falling away in the time of the Judges would be the Golden Age of Israel as viewed from a heavenly perspective. This also gives us a unique lesson in faith from an Old Testament narrative. This period stands out by a complete lack of description for the era. One verse! One statement, and moving on.

2 Corinthians 4:18.  For  we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Romans 8:25. If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

In the absence of a narrative, we have to believe that God’s Word is True, without a testimony for confirmation. For if Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, AND all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, then we must believe that they lived under the blessings promised for those who were faithful.

Deuteronomy 28:1, 2.  Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Clearly, the people did not abide under the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 long enough to see themselves set over all nations of the earth. However, as a people who served the Lord for most of a generation, the blessings would have been tangible.

Even more so, after using only 14 verses to describe the blessings of a faithful people, Deuteronomy 28 goes on to use over 50 verses to describe the curses to be brought on by disobedience! Surely this generation avoided all of these calamities. 

By faith, we must believe that life was more bountiful for Israel at this time than any other. Because:

Numbers 23:19. God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

We can now contrast this period with the time of the monarchy of Israel.

What stands out immediately even from this scant information is that even after the leader Joshua passed away, the elders of his generation were able to keep the people walking in the Way of the Lord, without a central figure. 

There was no king in Israel, and there was no intention in the heart of God for there ever to be one. When the elders demanded a king from Samuel, he received this word from God;

1 Samuel 8:7.  And the Lord said to Samuel, Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

While God did not desire to see a king reigning over His people, He did anticipate their demand and gave instructions for how a king in Israel should conduct himself.

Principles Governing Kings

Deuteronomy 17 :14-17. When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me, you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 

And he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, You shall not return that way again. Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

Now we can grade this so called Golden Age of Solomon by the expectations of God in the Law.

Solomon multiplied wives, who turned his heart away. Strike One.

1 Kings 11:4. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Solomon multiplied horses for his military.  Strike Two.

1 Kings 4:26.   And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

1 Kings 10:28.   And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt….

Solomon greatly multiplied gold in his kingdom, silver was not accounted.   Strike Three.

1 Kings 10:21.  And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

1 Kings 10:27. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.

1 Kings 10:14. The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was 666  talents of gold.

The Golden Age indeed!

Before anointing Saul the first king of Israel, Samuel warned the people of what a king would demand of them.

1 Samuel 8:11-20. And he said, This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.  He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 

 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.  And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take a tenth of your sheep. 

And you will be his servants.  And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you on that day. 

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.

King David fed his people as his flock, but this king’s levy came into full effect under the reign of Solomon. After forty years, the people had enough of this hardship. When his son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, they immediately voiced their grievances.

1 Kings 12:4.  Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he placed on us, and we will serve you.

The kingdom was soon divided and the rest is history. Israel fell to Assyria first, later Judah was taken into captivity to Babylon. The Lord spoke on this through the prophet Jeremiah that the captivity would last seventy years, for each year that the land of Israel was denied a Sabbath year of rest.

2 Chronicles 36:20, 21. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

During the Golden Years of Israel after Joshua, the land enjoyed a Sabbath rest every seventh year, according to the Law of Moses. If the land required 70 years of rest, then no Sabbath year was kept for 70×7=490 years. The people would not keep the Sabbath year for fear that they would not meet the king’s levy.

Further Instructions For The King

Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

Solomon clearly did not follow these instructions, nor would it appear that any of the kings who followed. In comparison, we have seen that after Joshua died the elders of Israel were able to keep the people in service to God with the Law of Moses. When you consider that Solomon was very young when he ascended the throne, were there not enough priests, scribes, elders and advisers in Jerusalem to impress upon the new king the need to follow God’s Law? He was sincere enough to pray for wisdom when God first appeared to him and inquired of his request. God then blessed him with all the things that any man would desire. When he then applied his wisdom to the things of the earth, all was vanity and anguish of heart.

FACE TO FACE

Genesis 32:30.  So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”                                      

After wrestling with an angel all night, Jacob experiences being “caught up” by the Spirit of the Lord.

My Life is preserved =Nephesh Natsal. 

Nephesh is most frequently translated soul.

Barak YHVH nephesh=Psalm 103.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.                 

Natsal is most frequently translated delivered.

Shamar Nephesh Natsal=  Psalm 25:20.  O keep my soul and deliver me.     

Natsal literally means to be snatched up and carried away from danger.

The Lord Our Deliverer gives us this assurance.

John 10.   My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.                      

When the scribes translated Genesis 32:30 into Greek in the Septuagint, ‘my life is preserved’ is rendered  sozo ego psuche.  In apostolic writings, this expression is most likely rendered as ‘saved my soul’.  Even better is to translate, ‘my life is made whole’. 

To come face to face with God is to ‘experience’ salvation and remission from sin.

 Luke 1:77.  To give ‘knowledge of salvation’ to His people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”                                                   

Remission of sin is deliverance from the carnal nature.

Romans 7.  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.                 

Romans 8.   For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.       

To ‘experience’ the ‘knowledge of salvation’ brings clarity to Romans 7, to enjoy the ‘Spirit of Liberty’ in the remission of sin described in Romans 8.

To come face to face with God is to be enraptured.

2 Corinthians 12.   I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.                                                             

This being ‘caught up’ in Greek: harpazo;  is used to describe the experience of Philip in Acts 8.  Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 

And ultimately, by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The ultimate personal experience in devotion to the Lord is face to face.

Hebrew: pahneem pahneem;  Greek: prosopon pros prosopon. 

Numbers 12.  When there is a prophet I reveal Myself to in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My house, I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles.   

Faithful to The House of God 

Hebrews 3:5, 6. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  

Come Before His Face,=Come Into His Presence   

Hebrews 4.    Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Growing In Grace  From The Glory  

1 Corinthians 13:12.   For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known. 

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (metamorpho=transfigured)  into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

A Friend of God

Exodus 33:11.  So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. 

John 15. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.                 

Guided By Wise Counsel

Psalm 73:24.    You shall guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory.

The counsel of the Lord is one of the “great themes” of the Bible and highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The counsel of the Lord provides a covering for those who walk in obedience to His living Word of instruction. We may look to the Bible for guideposts to living, but by the Holy Spirit we receive personal counsel.

John 16:13.  When the Spirit of Truth is come He will guide you into all truth, for He shall not speak of himself but whatsoever He shall hear shall He speak and He will show you things to come.

The Holy Spirit fulfills the word of Isaiah 9:14 regarding the Christ when he refers to Him as Wonderful Counselor. The Holy Spirit testifies to the Truth of Jesus Christ and is therefore the Spirit of Prophecy. (Revelation 19:10.)

It comes as no surprise in reading the words of the Old Testament that the people of God are condemned in not seeking and heeding the counsel of the Lord. This counsel revealed the work of the Holy Spirit among the children of Israel.

Isaiah 30:1. Woe to the rebellious children says the Lord, that take counsel but not of me; and that cover with a covering but not of my Spirit that they may add errors to their error.

The idea of counsel first appears in the Bible in Exodus 18:13-26; when Jethro the father-in-law of Moses, advises him on sharing the burden of responsibility for providing judgment to the people. While the modern world has evolved into an elaborate system of courts for both criminal and civil matters, the idea of judgment in the Bible is concerned with settling disputes between individuals, and ultimately between man and God. This system of able, experienced men to provide wise counsel later evolved into the royal advisers beginning with David and commented on extensively by his son Solomon in the book of Proverbs.

The ability to resolve matters of disagreement is vital to the health of the body of Christ. We see this immediately become an issue in the early church.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8.    Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge. I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

This is a difficult passage to read and consider, but we are all aware of the problems that develop between individuals that must be resolved wisely to avoid conflicts that destroy fellowship. This is why every single member must seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit and contribute their gift to the congregation. (1 Co 12).

James 3:16.   For where envy and strife exist, there is confusion and every evil work.

Consider this verse while thinking on the terrible sin that is able to rise up within a congregation. Infidelity, embezzlement, even murder. James says it begins with the problems we often refer to as “petty”. Gossips and contentious people are often referred to as petty. Minor criminal acts are referred to as “petty crimes”.

1 Peter 4:15.   But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

Notice Peter mentions busybodies along side murderers, thieves and other evildoers. Busybodies are often thought of as petty persons, but they are actually trying to play God in another person’s life in Christ. This is idolatry. In the kingdom of heaven, there can be no petty crime! This requires mercy, and the wisdom that comes from above:

James 3:17.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

1 Co 10:23.  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

These are problems that can only be resolved by the Spirit of Truth. We ease one another’s burdens by providing words of knowledge, wisdom and comfort from the throne of God. This is the manifestation of our first love and the gifts of the Spirit. The first principle of a covenant relationship with God is that all things must be done according to His purpose.

2 Tim 1:9.   Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

The Father is able to work out every detail after the counsel of His own will.

Ephesians 1:11.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

Acts 11:23.  Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

What is meant by this expression “purpose of heart”?
This word translated purpose is also used in the New Testament for the show-bread that was laid out before the Lord in the Temple Sanctuary.

Hebrews 4:13.   Thus our hearts must be laid open before Him; And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Even as the Holy Spirit spoke through Zacharias:

 Luke 1:74,75.  That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.                    

And again from Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:4.  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

The Presence of the Lord

1 John 2:28.  And now, little children, abide in him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him in His presence.

Isaiah 1:26. And I will restore your judges as at the first and your counselors as at the beginning; afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.

3 John 4.    I have no greater joy than to hear that my brethren walk in Truth.

Patient Endurance

Psalm 27:14.  Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;  Wait, I say, on the Lord!  

Wait on the Lord is a very familiar expression, used many times in the Old Testament Psalms and Prophets. But it does not seem to be used in the New Testament at all, or does it?

In the Septuagint, the Greek used to express waiting is hupomeno and is used 17 times in the New Testament to express enduring patiently. These passages inform us of the true meaning of “to wait on the Lord”.

Mark 13:13.  And you will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.  

Matthew 24:13.   And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

This is a very important teaching that Jesus shared with his disciples during his final instructions. Having taken this message to heart enabled them to endure the challenge of being the first apostles of the Gospel.

 2 Timothy 2:10.  Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 

Hebrews 12:7.  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  

James 1:12.  Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him.  

1 Peter 2:20.    But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure, this is commendable before God.  

 1 Corinthians 13:7.   Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.                        

Sanctified By The Eternal Spirit

Hebrews 9:14  How much more will the blood of Messiah—who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God—cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The work of the Holy Spirit is to perfect our spirit and our conscience, in the presence of God. To enjoy access among those who have been sanctified.

Hebrews 12:22,3.   But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.

A Sanctified Conscience

Acts 20:32.  So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Acts 24:16  I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Acts 26:18.  That they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

John 17:19.   And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Hebrews 2:11.  For both He who sanctifies and those being sanctified are all from one so He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.

The Mystery of The Faith

1 Timothy 1:5. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 3:9.   Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

2 Corinthians 1:12.   For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

2 Corinthians 4:2.  Instead, we renounced the hidden shameful ways—not walking in deception or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by the open proclamation of the truth.

Titus 1:15  All things pure are for the pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

Hebrews 10:22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Enduring for Conscience Sake 

1 Peter 2:19.    For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 3:15, 16.  Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 

Sanctified and Useful

2 Timothy 2:19-21.   Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” For in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.  Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

Isaiah 5:16.   For the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the Holy God shall be sanctified in righteousness.

The Single Eye of The Spirit, a Sanctified Conscience

1 John 5:20.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.

To be given “an understanding”; Greek dianoia: “a way to understand” means that The Logos, the Son of God is the lens through which we view life and rightly comprehend His intent. He has “given us insight”, a clear heart vision to reflect our minds upon and know “the true God and eternal life”. To have inspired comprehension.

Psalm 119:130.  The unfolding of Your words gives light, giving understanding to the simple.

Paul prayed:

Ephesians 1:18.  That the eye of our understanding would be enlightened to know the hope of His Calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to “open our understanding”.

Luke 24:32.  Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?

Those who reject the Lord have their understanding “darkened”.

Ephesians 4:18. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them due to the blindness of their heart.
Romans 1:21. Their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark.

The Evil Eye

Luke 11:34. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil (distorted), your body also is full of darkness.

In the parable of the vineyard workers, the landowner says:

Matthew 20:15.   “Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”

An “evil eye” is the failure to rightly comprehend good and evil.

Isaiah 5:20.  Woe to them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for  darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Christian maturity in the Spirit of Truth brings discernment.

Hebrews 5:14.  Solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.

1 Corinthians 4:5.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

John 3:21.  Whoever practices the truth comes to the light, that it may be made known that his deeds have been accomplished in God.

Ephesians 5:13. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

The Light of Life

John 8:12.  Jesus said, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

The energy of sunlight that gives life to all creation is but a type. The Light of Truth is  the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life from the Son of God.

Hebrews 1:3. The Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word.

The Son of God is:
John 1:9. The true light, coming into the world, that gives the light of life to every man.

To walk in the Spirit is to walk in the Light. To walk in the Light is to admit our faults to one another, to be made whole.

1 John 1:7 & 9. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

All worldly knowledge conspires to distort the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to blind the eye of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:3 & 4. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

And thus we know what we are called to be a light.
Matthew 5:14-16. You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

A Pure and Sincere Understanding

2 Peter 3:1. Stir up your pure mind (comprehension) by way of remembrance.

The eyes of your understanding is referenced, although dianoia is translated ‘mind’ here and in a couple of other key verses. To be clear: the Greek word for mind is ‘nous’, as in Romans 7:23; ‘the law of my mind’. Peter here speaks of sound comprehension, as in:

1 Peter 1:13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind (dianoia=comprehension), be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Again, dianoia is translated mind, when understanding is often used. Dia is way, path, or channel through; implying the way to understand, or comprehend. The expression ‘gird up the loins of your mind’ is a powerful image of sound understanding. Loins refers to the hips, our strongest, weight-bearing joint, and critical for keeping our balance (spiritual). God’s ‘ball and socket’ design is used extensively in modern engineering design. Therefore, a sober, pure and sincere mind keeps us walking in ‘the light of Truth’.

As Paul prays:

Philippians 1:9-11. And this I pray, that your love may abound in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

This is what is meant when the Lord instructed:

Mark 12:30.  ‘Love the Lord with all of your mind’ (comprehension).

Hebrews 8:10. And, ‘I will put my laws in their mind’ (comprehension)

The Will of God

Mark 10:17, 18.  Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

The Messiah did not come into the world to declare the kingdom of heaven open to all who would do good, but to establish a family inheritance based on One Truth.

Matthew 12:47-50.   Then one said to Him, Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You. But He answered and said to the one who told Him, Who is My mother and who are My brothers? And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.

Mark 10:19. You know the commandments….

Mark 10:20. And he answered and said to Him, Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.

Mark 10:21-22.  Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

People with great possessions honor one another with humanitarian awards for their generous charity. Jesus said that a poor widow’s single mite offered was of greater value in the kingdom of heaven.

John 5:44. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from God only?

Jesus came to reconcile the world to His Father, God in heaven.

John 5:30.  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Messiah came, that we can have the same life that He shared with the Father. As the Logos, the Son of God manifests the Father’s Intent. The Will of God for every child of God is displayed in the life of Jesus Christ, the son of man.

John 5:19.  Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

Matthew 7:21. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

Luke 6:46. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

Not every good or positive action comes from above. That which is born of the Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit. 

John 3:5-7. Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born from above.

Only what God puts into our spirit, by the Holy Spirit, will survive the judgment.

John 3:12.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Essential teaching of John the Baptist: John 3:27-36.

John 3:31.  He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 

John 3:36.  He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

The Son Declares the Father’s Heart

John 3:14-18.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but the ones who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The Kingdom of Our Lord is a Kingdom of the Eternal Spirit.

John 4:23, 24.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

To be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven requires a spiritual transformation.

Matthew 17:1, 2. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured[G3339] before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Romans 12:1, 2. I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service.  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed[G3339] by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 3:17, 18.  Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed[G3339] into the same image from glory to glory—just as from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

To ‘believe in’ the Son means to fully commit one’s trust.

John 6:27, 29. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.  This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.

John 6:39, 40.  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:63. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

John 7:16-18. Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

John 8:28.29. Then Jesus said to them, When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.

We must lay down our life, that we may take it up again.

John 10:17. Therefore My Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

Matthew 16:24, 25. Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

We must learn to recognize the Voice of the Spirit to follow the Lord.

John 10:27-29. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

The Doctrine of Christ is that with our spirit, we reflect the relationship of the Son to the Father, by the Holy Spirit and the Will of the Father.

Matthew 11:27. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

Religious denominations have moved away from the leading of the Holy Spirit, changing doctrine to suit the times.

2 John 9. Whoever moves ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

John 12:44-50. He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness…. 

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.

Matthew 10:24, 25.  A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.

Mark 10:44, 45.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Homily

What has become a familiar refrain in modern Christianity is that if you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you can know that you will go to heaven when you die. This was never the apostolic message or the teaching of Jesus Christ. The True Gospel is not a ‘die and go to heaven’ message, but a ‘live in righteousness and holiness before Him all the days of our life’ message. 

The hope of a ‘better place’ where people go when they die has been around long before even Moses. People all over the world have some form of tradition. Curiously, the Hebrew understanding that Jesus confirms is that the dead go to Hades, in the earth, to await the resurrection and judgment. Jesus went there after his death to preach before His resurrection.

The Crux is concerned with the resurrection of the dead, and an eternal judgment. Many Christians seem to think that they will be bypassing this entirely! The Kingdom of God and Heaven is a Kingdom of Righteousness. When your life reflects the Eternal Spirit of this kingdom, you have boldness to live your life before God, and the confident hope to stand before The Messiah at the Judgment. 

Those who do not teach and preach this message are liars and thieves. They are stealing from those who would receive the Just recompense of reward for the Righteous. How you live your life means everything to God. And yet I have heard preachers say “you didn’t do anything to get yourself saved, what makes you think you can do anything to get unsaved?” This is not the true meaning of the least of these, but has become the new Standard. There is only one True Standard, crucified with Christ.

Revelation 12:11. They overcome  by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they do not love their lives even in the face of death.