Mark 16:19 – When the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere.
Jesus prepared His disciples for three and a half years. He gave them some final instructions and then was “received up into heaven” to be seated next to His Father. Please notice that Jesus was “received.” As believers, we have been received as well. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Both Jesus and His Father had worked (John 5:17). Now it was time for the disciples to go to work. Our work must come out of what the Father and the Son have done. It comes from their resting position, seated in heaven.
The “Work” is finished, but as His disciples, we are cleaning up the mess in the lives of those for whom Jesus died and rose again. We are His “workers”! The starting point for our work is to be His witnesses. “You will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:27). It started with the apostles testifying of the Lord’s finished work for Israel. Paul took the message to the Gentiles as a result of the revelation that God had extended salvation to all peoples in the earth. We have received the “witness” of the apostles if we have put our faith in God’s finished work in Christ Jesus, the Lord. We not only have received salvation, but are on assignment to declare to others that, Christ is alive and He reigns over the nations.
Receiving the Lord implies a sense of responsibility. His salvation is free in the sense that God purchased us with the shed blood of His Son. Jesus freely gave His life for the sins of the world. In receiving God’s salvation, we are submitting ourselves to His authority over our lives. He is now our King! His mandate to the apostles now applies to us, “Go” into the entire world. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The Gospel of Mark says they “preached everywhere” (Mark 16:19).
Father, I thank You for my salvation in Christ Jesus. Help me to be faithful in my responsibility to share with others what You have accomplished through Your Son. Thank You for the authority I have received because of Your finished work. I commit myself to finish the work You have called me to accomplish. I rest in Your power and not my own strength!
Matthew 16:18 – I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.
Jesus came to build His church. He did not come to start a church, but to build a church. Building requires a sure footing on which a foundation can be laid. Once the foundation is laid, then the building can begin. As Jesus is talking with His disciples in Matthew 16, He asks them what the general consensus is among the people about His identity. He then got more specific with them and asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter boldly states, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Upon Peter’s statement, Jesus goes on to tell His disciples that “upon this rock I will build My church.” What rock? The eternal truth that Peter had stated!
The name Christ means, “The Anointed One” or “Messiah.” He is not only “God’s Anointed One,” but the living Son of God. The Christian faith is rooted in this eternal truth. If any one does not believe this, they are not Christian. Jesus gave up His human life on the cross, in order to build a “new building” from His resurrected life. His whole spirit, soul, and body were raised from the dead on the third day by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“You are no longer strangers and aliens, but follow-citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Jesus the Rock, Jesus the Builder, Jesus who laid the foundation in both His Apostles and Prophets is building by using people as the stones of His church building. “Coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-6). The Church is not mortar or brick. The Church is not an ecclesiastical system. The Church is a people made alive by the Holy Spirit. The Church is not “static,” but “dynamic” in its spiritual core. In other words, The Church is alive on earth. Another metaphor which Jesus used in John 15 is that we are branches which are attached to Him, a fruit-bearing Vine. Today, celebrate your life in Christ as a living stone and a fruit-bearing branch for His glory!
Father, I thank You for raising me up from the dead in Christ. Thank You for the breath of Your Holy Spirit who causes me to be a living stone in the building You are building in the earth by Your Son Jesus, the Christ. Cause me to be a dynamic force for Your glory in my sphere of influence.
Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
For the believer in Christ, there should be no question about the ultimate fulfillment of God’s government. E. Stanly Jones said, “Every man is built for the Kingdom. Even the most hardened sinner, and intransigent violator of God’s law is constitutionally structured to relate to God’s Kingdom,” (What on Earth Is the Kingdom of God? by W.A. Young, Jr., page 115). Because we were created in the image of God, there is no rest outside of His Kingdom or Government. Saint Augustine said, “You made us for Yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus was helping His disciples understand the centrality of His message concerning the kingdom of God. “Your kingdom come” is not a request for some future event, but it is what the Father had begun in Christ during His earthly life. The disciples were seeing the kingdom of God beginning to be established in the Earth as they experienced life with Jesus. God’s will was realized in the cross as the Lord freely gave His life for lost humanity. The Day of Pentecost brought the fulfillment of what the Prophets had been looking for, God living in the person of a human being on earth. It was what Nebuchadnezzar saw in his forgotten dream which Daniel revealed, described, and interpreted. He saw a stone cut out of the mountain. A stone which grew until it became large and smashed the feet of the image. This was a prophetic picture of God’s kingdom being established in the earth and overcoming all other kingdoms on earth (Daniel 2:44-45).
The kingdom of God came in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God grew as believers received the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God continues to grow in the earth as believers surrender to God’s will and to His kingdom purposes. The nations are hearing the message today. God’s kingdom is growing in the earth. Repent and submit to the king. If you do, the blessing of heaven will come. If you refuse, God’s judgment will overcome your plans.
The emerging of the kingdom of God and the will of God being done in the earth is the future for all humanity. God’s kingdom will not be overcome by any other kingdom, as has been the experience of the nations throughout history. Will you permit the Holy Spirit to rule in your life today and walk in His favor?
Father, I choose to live under Your kingdom purposes. I thank You for Your grace that has led me to surrender to Your appointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please use me to declare Your governmental rule in the earth.
1 Peter 2:13-14 – Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and the praise of those who do right.
The Lord set us free from the dominion of sin and Satan’s kingdom. Our “independence,” does not mean we are free to do anything we want or to be independent of God ordained authority. Jesus redeemed us to the Father’s divine order. The government of God, must start in our personal life. It must start with our personal submission to authority. It must start with our understanding that the government of God is imperative in our lives. When we were born again, we were born into government. We were born into a kingdom; we were born into the realm of King Jesus and His delegated authorities. To fully recognize King Jesus, we must also recognize His delegated authorities.
We need to grasp that the government of God in the earth is the realm of our highest joy (The Government of God by Ern Baxter, page 15). True joy is not found in one’s “independence” but in submission to God’s government under Jesus in the Holy Spirit. God the Father governs our lives through His settled Word, through our personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, through submission to His delegated spiritual leaders, and the authority structures in the earth as stated by Peter in our verses for today.
Many of God’s people try to walk independent of the authority that others carry. True joy comes when we submit to the laws of the land (see Romans 13:1-7), when we learn how to submit to one another in the Lord (see Ephesians 5:21), and when we receive God’s true leadership (see Hebrews 13:17). Paul establishes that “Righteousness, peace, and joy is in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). For many, independence means “I am in complete control of my life.” Each one must take responsibility for their choices in life and then deal with the outcome of those choices. For the kingdom of the God-minded person, submission to God’s appointed authorities brings true and lasting peace and joy established in righteousness.
Father, I confess that my life belongs to You. Your King, the Lord Jesus Christ purchased my salvation and set me in Your kingdom. I choose to submit to Your will and to the order of Your kingdom in the earth. Holy Spirit, guide me and establish me in Your government.
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.
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.