Sometimes the assumptions built into our local traditions help us get things wrong.
Jesus repeatedly said that he came to give us Life. The Life of God (in New Testament Greek: Zoe). Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus say his purpose was to come to get you into heaven.
He repeatedly said that he came to bring you Life, Zoe: the Life of God. Heaven is included.
He came to get Life into you: the Life of God. (Something the first Adam lost.) Relationship restored!
Jesus never said to make converts; he said to make disciples. (Converts are included in making disciples.)
He came so you can start helping to bring heaven to earth – now. Wow! You get to help bring heaven to earth.
Salvation is included, and you will go to heaven. And later in our New Heaven and New Earth, God will literally be our Light that we see by, in the Temple.
Help bring Heaven to earth: preach the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Make disciples of all nations, all people groups.
Also, you get to pray for heaven on earth:
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6: 8-10, NKJV
So…my thesis here is that Jesus did not say he came here to get us into heaven, even though he does get us into heaven when we respond with faith. What he repeatedly said was that he came here to give us Life. The Life of God, in us, does result in heaven. And later, into the New Heaven and New Earth.
It’s like that he did not say we were to make converts. He said to make disciples – this should be our focus when evangelizing. Which will result in stronger and more effective Christians than by focusing on making converts. Let’s follow Jesus and do what Jesus said.
Let’s do and minister as Jesus showed, taught, and as he still says to us today in Scripture, with Holy Spirit. Doing as Jesus teaches is better than following local traditions.
I realized something recently that surprised and delighted me. Some years ago I introduced maybe as many as 75 people to how to experience Jesus for themselves, experiencing Jesus in their heart. It was based on a key decision, which I explained they could undo if they did not like the experience or did not want to continue to experience Jesus. Not a single one chose to not continue to experience Jesus in their hearts. That’s astounding, there is little that we humans do that works so well. But then, this was the work of Holy Spirit….
Most of these people went on to be baptized in water, and then be baptized in Holy Spirit. We met in one of three houses, rotating where we met for about two years. Our weekly meetings lasted 6-8 hours; some people came early, others left early. We didn’t have 75 people at these meetings, but the house was always pretty full.
During that time, discipling happened, helped and led by Holy Spirit.
Regardless, we all learned how to experience Jesus. And everyone liked this so much they wanted to continue.
I was inspired to try this with people by Holy Spirit when reading scripture. It was long ago, and I’m not sure, but I suspect I had been reading 1 John, Chapter 4.
Here’s how it went, helping people to experience Jesus for themselves:
Try out these beliefs, and check your heart: you will be experiencing Jesus in your heart.
If you don’t like it, just decide against those beliefs.
Jesus is fully man, completely human.
Jesus is fully God, he is God.
When you believe both of these things: you can experience Jesus in your heart.
Most of us are called to minister in our sphere of influence. There is a deep satisfaction to ministering where we are to people we can touch with the Kingdom of God.
This is a safe place to practice, learn, and minister in. Your ego will be tempted far less than in some other spheres. It’s a good idea to start where you are, and to follow Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5. The Fruit is good!
I notice that when I minister in my sphere of influence, Holy Spirit often noticeably helps. I feel safe, secure, helpful. Inspired. Temptations of my ego and flesh are minimal. Holy Spirit moves.
Please notice for yourself what it is like for you when you minister in your sphere of influence.
Jesus sent disciples out in pairs. See Mathew 10 & Luke 10. Go. Go minister. Jesus even gives directions on how to do this without money or buildings. Sent people go out in pairs. Take little with them. Depend on resources to live from where they stay, in houses of peace. Ministering to the people who know and are in contact with a house of peace is easy. As healing happens, as people are set free, you become busy.
Be not burdened with seeking fame, money, or expensive buildings that eat up resources for ministry. Follow the pattern in the Gospels. Share the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Some people will be eager to learn more: make disciples, of all sorts of people. Disciples that meet together are the start of an ecclesia – often translated as church.
(A church is a gathering of believers, not an expensive building.)
Doing these things will cause increasing numbers of people being ministered to, healed and set free. You will become busy as word gets out – the need is great and there are many in great need. Disciples who plant ecclesias will multiply, and multiply, and the numbers can become amazing before too long.
This is a simple and powerful pattern that Jesus demonstrated, taught, and that his Disciples followed. This pattern still works today.
A few are called – a few – to larger and more public ministry. These are few, and the traps and dangers are many: various temptations. Big expenses and big egos are rampant. Selling the current culture of entertainment works, and becomes part of ministries – too often without Holy Spirit. Tricks of theater can become ineffective substitutes for Holy Spirit, as can enlarged egos of people who seek fame.
Theater skills and lessons can be used well in ministry. Some do this on a full time basis, some part of the time. Too many are distracted by worldly fame and worldly methods – this is not a path that is safe or good for everyone! Take care. Follow Holy Spirit, always; and you will be doing well. For Jesus sends us Holy Spirit for such reasons as these.
The most successful ministers and ministries have intercessors – before, during and after ministry. (This is true whether ministry be large or small; is part of the the Normal Pattern of Ministry Growth that Jesus gave us. Jesus sent people out in pairs. One prays while the other ministers, I was taught early on – and this works amazingly well.)
Teams of intercessors leads to more effective and powerful ministries.
Best is to always minister where God calls you to minister. If you are not clear, ask for more of Holy Spirit. Then ask for where you are to minister. Usually you will not be given a grand plan or a grand assignment. Usually you will be given a single step to follow and do, where you will learn what you need for future next steps.
You will make mistakes and run into obstacles. Holy Spirit will show you what’s next, as you continue to learn. We love our successes and learn most from our failures. After five or six good failures, your ministry will likely be taking off.
You may become famous or have acclaim. If this is for the glory of God, you and your ego and flesh may be safe from temptation.
Running my race. Sometimes I do well; too often I do not.
I have recently, again and again, fallen short of the Glory of God.
I am a sinner.
I have hurt others, and I have been hurt by Christians I look up to and admire. And I have used that as an excuse to sin even more.
How did all this happen, I wonder. Maybe you wonder, too. Well, it was all too easy.
A lot of it happened through social media. Through the news. And most terribly – in my own heart.
Friends I admire and look up to would send me jokes about democrats, and I would laugh – some of them were really funny. And some of these were not just funny, some were also quite nasty.
Other friends would send me descriptions of religious republicans and the twisted things some of them are encouraging, and I would agree.
Friends from different parties would send me news articles. Too often full of truths that make my heart recoil. And too often — one sided or twisted versions of events. And I would agree for a while, before I saw more broadly and inclusively.
Friends with high ideals and good reasons sending me twisted, one sided, soul shrinking propaganda. And I would read and agree for a while. Until….
Everybody has good reasons. Too often amplified beyond reason – the kind of thing that gives opportunity to unclean spirits. Too often twisted, to make a point. Too often so one-sided as to be sinful in themselves, yet very convincing.
And here I am, a well meaning feckless chameleon; first agreeing with this and seeing it clearly. Then agreeing with that, and seeing that clearly. Boy, talk about being double-minded. I’m an expert. A friend tells me the Greek literally means two-minded, a person with two minds – actually two souls.
I have lost all sense of proportion and of the larger picture: I am bound by love, previous repentance, and duty to a King and Kingdom that is at hand: Immanuel and his Kingdom. How often do I forget the Good News of the Kingdom? Too often.
I get caught up being for this or for that; or against this and against that. As though these were my first allegiance. I forget Whose I am.
I have sinned. Repeatedly. Forgetting Whose I am, forgetting the Kingdom and Immanuel. My first allegiance. I am ashamed.
So I again repent and ask for more of Holy Spirit. For help to live not for what I eat or drink but for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Putting the Kingdom first.
Lord, help me be a beneficial influence in the culture that surrounds me, influence, share and spread the Kingdom of God. And to do this first, before and more strongly and with more skill, love and determination – than any good thing I do in well intentioned and wordly politics. Help me follow Holy Spirit so well and so much that I am full of Fruit of the Spirit. Love, self-control, kindness, patience…and control my tongue.
The Untamable Tongue
3 My brethren, (A)let not many of you become teachers, (B)knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For (C)we all stumble in many things. (D)If anyone does not stumble in word, (E)he is a[a]perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 [b]Indeed, (F)we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.5 Even so (G)the tongue is a little member and (H)boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And (I)the tongue is a fire, a world of [c]iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it (J)defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of [d]nature; and it is set on fire by [e]hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, (K)full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made (L)in the [f]similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a (M)fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? [g]Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Heavenly Verses Demonic Wisdom
13 (N)Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have (O)bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, (P)do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 (Q)This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For (R)where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But (S)the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, (T)without partiality (U)and without hypocrisy. 18 (V)Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I’ve noticed several things that help me live out of my New Self, my New Person. So I make a list to help me remember and do this, especially when I am under pressure. (So read slowly & meditate, or even better, have a conversation with Jesus about these matters.)
Why is this important?
My Old Person has:
been marked by sin,
has wounds & is reactive (has trauma & PTSD) because of them,
is carnal and fleshly, selfish and mean. Feels smaller than I am.
does not please God.
Does not hear God except for audible voice, which is rare and something I personally have not yet heard.
Carries the curses of a broken world, including sin, sickness and disease. Feels bad.
Cannot minister effectively.
My New Person has:
always been free of sin – and has no marks of sin.
Has no wounds and so is not reactive to wounds (has no trauma or PTSD). Feels bigger than I am.
In the culture of the Old Testament, normally people were considered clean, unless they came into contact with the unclean, such as by touching a dead body.
(Various bible translations use “Holy” and “Clean” for the same word; and “Unholy” and “Unclean” for another word. For me, “Holy” is more powerful; and “Clean” is more clear. Which words do you prefer?)
There is an important key principle here:the Unclean is more contagious than the Clean.
There is an important and parallel principle: When the Unclean came into contact with the Holy of Holies, the Unclean became Clean.
This is a ceremonial lesson about Jesus: who is the Holy of Holies and who makes clean whatever he comes into contact with.
So there is another important key principle here:the Holy of Holies is more contagious than the Unclean.
Which has important implications in healing and other ministry.
Jesus, his Anointing, and the Holy of Holies are a great context for ministry, such as preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, healing the sick or freeing the bound.
The Holy of Holies is a model of Jesus, who makes everything clean, who makes us whole, and who heals who has set us free. Jesus has overcome the world!
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”