GOD’S VIEW OF INDEPENDENCE

Galatians 5:1 – It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Freedom and independence are very closely related. The independence that the Lord has purchased for all mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross is an independence from Satan’s control. Before the Lord went to the cross to bear the penalty of our sins and overcome the power of the kingdom of darkness, all humanity was enslaved to Satan’s kingdom. That slavery prevented anyone from being truly free and independent.

God views freedom through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God views the world He created through the lens of Christ’s atoning work. It was two thousand years ago that freedom was established for mankind. The Lord does not see seven billion people in the world, but two men. Adam, who through his disobedience, thrust humanity into bondage and the Last Adam, through whom freedom was purchased. We are either related to Adam, our original parent, drawing from his natural life, or we are related to the Last Adam, drawing from His life in the Spirit.

In Galatians, Paul is addressing freedom from religious bondage under the Law. The Law was necessary because of bondage to our sin condition. But the Law could not free us from that condition of sin. Only the Lord Jesus could do that by becoming the sacrifice for sin. His sacrifice was acceptable to God the Father. Now the Father receives all those who come to Him through faith in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

Freedom and independence have been secured in the world through the gospel of the kingdom of God. The nations that receive God’s king, by receiving the message of the kingdom of God, are nations that have enjoyed true freedom and independence given by God. When a nation that has received the gospel draws back, they lose the liberty that the Lord has provided for them and it allows the kingdom of darkness to have increased effect on that nation.

Father, I thank you for the freedom You have provided in Christ. By faith, I receive all You have done for me. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help me to keep standing firm and not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Use my freedom to share with others that they too may be free from sin and stand firm in the victory of Christ. I pray for all people to come to know the freedom You have made possible. I pray for the nations to be discipled as You have commanded. I especially pray for my country to surrender to Your appointed king, Jesus the Christ.

BAPTIZED INTO PEOPLE

1 Corinthians 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.

For every time the Bible speaks of Jesus as “Savior,” it speaks twenty-nine times as “Lord.” With much of the preaching we hear today through television and other forms of media, it sounds like God is only “blessing” us, as we define blessing emotionally. I thank God for the music, ministry, times of healing, and encouragement. All are a part of the celebration of our joy.  Underneath all of the celebration and blessing is a move of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the ministry that He was sent to perform. The Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes us into the body of Christ and is raising up God’s redeemed community in the earth.

Baptism in water confirms identity with Christ’s death and resurrection as well as our covenantal relationship with God. Paul said, “You were baptized into death” and “You were buried in baptism.” That cut you off from the Adamic society as a controlling influence in your life. We have also been cut free from the demonic realm as an influence over us. As we rose out of the water, it was God’s intent to “baptize us with the Holy Spirit.” We were given a new life principle, that is, to walk in newness of life.

Another dimension we were given in baptism is that we were baptized into people. That dimension is missing in contemporary church life. “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body.” Paul goes on to say, “We have been made to drink into one Spirit.” To be baptized in water and in the Spirit is only two thirds of God’s intent. The other third is that I am baptized into people. Acts 2 tells us that over 3,000 brethren were added to the Lord’s church that day. With women and children, perhaps it was closer to twelve thousand. Immediately, they began to hang out together, going from house to house with gladness and singleness of heart, breaking bread. “The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47, emphasis mine).

The beauty of what God is doing in the earth is when people are brought together in the unity of God’s government. We are not brought together in some kind of indefinable mass. We are brought together in a definable, governmental structure under God that is clearly delineated in the Word of Truth as the churches of God in the earth, with their elders, with their leaders, and with their authorities.

Father, I affirm my faith that You, according to Your Word, bring all things into one in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). Further, I affirm You are building me together with others, “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Teach me to be yielded to Your governmental structure which is ordained by the Holy Spirit who is living in me.

THE GOSPEL

1 Corinthians 15:1 – Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved.

The Corinthians had received the gospel by the revelation of the apostle Paul. In his letter, he wants to make sure that they have understood the message he had preached. By the time Paul is writing to these believers, many had brought confusing words to them about the gospel. Paul states, “Now I make known unto you.” The gospel needs clarification because of all the various individual views that are represented. In today’s contemporary church, there is still confusion regarding the gospel.

The word gospel means to announce good news. The question we must ask is, “what good news?” Paul helps us know what good news he is speaking about, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Romans 14:9). Again Paul states, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). We see that the good news is that Christ died and lives again. The rest of the good news is laid in the fact He is presently reigning as God’s appointed king. The early church represented Christ as “Lord.” In that day, the Romans declared Caesar as Lord, but the Christians declared, “Jesus is Lord!”

God’s purpose in the gospel is for Christ to reign over all of God’s creation. “The aim of the gospel is to declare and enthrone Jesus as King” (Charles Simpson, What Is the Gospel? page 2). This is exactly what the angels declared to the Shepherds at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:10-11 “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

For many years, in parts of the church, the emphasis has been on salvation, based on Romans 10:9-10. Verse 13 must also be included, “For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (emphasis mine). It is clear throughout the New Testament that the desired end is not simply salvation, but to make Jesus Lord.

John the Baptist and Jesus both declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Paul ended his ministry in his own rented house; “solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23). The enemy has sought to stop the message of the “good news,” through martyrdom and by distorting the message. He has failed! The good news of the gospel is being revived around the world. Today, multitudes are declaring that “Jesus is Lord!”

Have you embraced the full gospel of the kingdom of God? If not, why not receive Jesus, not only as your Savior, but your king? Begin to speak the full message of the gospel, the good news that Jesus is Lord.

THE ORDER OF GOD’S KINGDOM

Mark 9:35-36 – If any wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.

In Jesus’ statement to His disciples, and to us now, He establishes the order of God’s kingdom. This is in direct contrast to the systems of the world. In the world, the order is to do whatever you must to succeed and get to the top. This is an attitude which is directly related to the problem of sin and evil. Men, ever since the fall, have striven for authority, control, and domination. These are major struggles in the human experience.

The solution is found in Christ. Headship begins with a benevolent Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. This amazing favor flows from God’s Throne to earth. True authority originates with God. God sends to all humanity His “Obedient Son.” Because of Christ’s obedience to the Father’s authority, the kingdom of God is established in the earth. The authority of God is reigning in a Man. The Lord Jesus Christ first endured the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin. He broke Satan’s power over humanity and made it possible once again, to be restored to God. God established Christ, the Man, as Sovereign over mankind. When we choose Christ and obey His command to repent and be baptized, we exchange one type of authority, the kingdom of darkness, for another, the kingdom of God. 

The Father promised the Son Their Holy Spirit would be given to everyone who would trust in Christ. Through the “Power of Their life-giving Spirit,” we receive of the kingdom of God and are given authority in the earth. An authority over Satan’s kingdom, an authority in our sphere of influence, an authority over sickness and disease and most importantly, an authority over the self-nature that is rooted in sin.

In the Holy Spirit, we have authority to receive the “new creation man.” In the earth, God’s people are reigning with Christ. The Lord’s Church is to be led by those surrendered to the Life of the Holy Spirit as “gifted” (grace-filled leaders) who are watching out for the souls of God’s people. They are to be servant-minded individuals who see themselves as last of all and servant of all.

Father, I thank You for the order of Your kingdom. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and create in me the heart of a servant. Help me choose a daily posture of humility and servanthood.  I choose to walk under Your authority that begins at Your Throne. I pray for Your new creation man to be fully manifested in my life.

PREPARING FOR THE LORD’S PROMISES

Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

By this time, the eleven disciples had walked with Jesus for over three years. I say eleven, because Judas, after betraying Jesus took his own life. Many others followed Jesus as well. 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us that over 500 brethren saw Him at one time after His resurrection. Acts 1:15 records that one hundred twenty disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father of which Jesus had spoken.

Days after the resurrection it is recorded, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). These disciples were seeking to obey Jesus’ command to “wait” by preparing for the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. It is evident that they did not know what to expect, but they prepared the best they could to receive what the Lord had promised.

After the resurrection, when the disciples encountered the risen Lord, they did not recognize Him (Luke 24:31-32). The years in which they had walked and lived with Jesus were an encounter with the Lord in the flesh. Now, they were experiencing Him in the Spirit, and they did not really know Him (2 Corinthians 5:16). We have not known Christ after the flesh. We have only known Him by the Spirit. Although we, as they, were born of the flesh, it becomes quite a challenge to learn to respond to the Holy Spirit as He leads us in becoming a “new creation” person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It is important for us to prepare for the Lord’s presence. Many just assume He is present around us. I believe that He is present in our daily lives, but He wants to show Himself to us in ways we have not known and cannot imagine in our rational mind. These disciples “devoted themselves to prayer.” They devoted themselves to searching the Scriptures about what was happening. They sought to set some things in order in preparation for the coming Holy Spirit. Notice, the Scriptures state that, “they were of one mind,” as previously mentioned.

Father, help me to prepare myself for what You want to accomplish in and through me. I ask for You to help me prepare my heart and lifestyle for what You are planning. Give me an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying today to the church. Father, I pray for Your people to be of one mind in their willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish the Father’s will.