Everyone Will Be Suprised #2

I’ve rewritten this post, and am deleting the other that I published by this title. I should have meditated on it longer before writing. The Holy Spirit wants me to challenge you to go beyond what you now know, but not to condemn. So, here goes!

Matthew 25:37-39 (NASB) Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”

Matthew 25:44 (NASB) Then the accursed (v. 41) will answer (Jesus), “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?”

It looks like everyone will be surprised when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, comes in His glory. But how can that be? Why would some be surprised to find that they had served Him, and why would some be surprised to find that they had not served Him?

If I organize a food bank so starving people are fed, pass out bottles of water to the thirsty, invite strangers into my own home when they need shelter, organize and oversee a clothing closet for the poor, participate in a prison ministry, and visit sick people, I will know that I did these things. I would say that those are good deeds, indeed. But there are those, according to Jesus, who will be surprised because they feel they’ve done all these good things, and believe that’s what He wanted in Matthew 25:31-46. The surprised ones address Him as “Lord” when they ask, “When didn’t we . . . ?” Calling Him “Lord” indicates that they have removed themselves from the throne in their hearts and have enthroned Him. So why does Jesus call them “accursed?”

Conversely, if in the name of Jesus (that is, having His nature and acting as His representative) I feed the Word of God to people, if raging torrents of living water come from my belly as Christ promised to those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, if I invite into His household those who do not know Christ, if I speak His words so they see the the truth of them and become clothed with His righteousness, if by Jesus’ words I free those who are in prisons both with and without bars, and heal the sick, will I know that I did these things? Yet according to Jesus, those who do these things are also surprised, asking, “When did we . . . ?” Why does He call them “righteous” and call “accursed” the others who know the good deeds they have done?

You know, I’ve been a Christian for ten years, and I really don’t know who I myself have affected with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen some fed by the Word of God from my mouth, but I didn’t feed them — it was His Word. I have seen the spiritual thirst and hunger of some quenched, but I didn’t do it. It was the work of the Holy Spirit. I have watched them join the household of God, drawn by Him, but I didn’t draw them — the Father did. I have seen them saved by the gospel (it is the power of God for salvation) and thus clothed with Christ’s righteousness, but I didn’t save them or clothe them– the power of God did, through the gospel of Jesus Christ which I spoke. (Sometimes, I have uttered no words at all and people have come to salvation, so I would KNOW it wasn’t anything I was doing!) I have watched people be set free from sin by Christ’s words and His power, but I didn’t set them free — He did. While present with some, I have seen them healed by Him. But I didn’t heal them — He did. “Yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Do you see? Though I am ministering, I myself have done none of these things. So, when I stand before Him, He may say, “Truly, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” And I will be surprised, because I believe I myself have done nothing, really, except proclaim the excellencies of Him who brought me out of darkness and into His wonderful light. I have watched Him work, not me. All I have done is what I am compelled to do by the very love of God with which He Himself filled my heart. All I have done is allow the Lord to make my feet beautiful so the good news of His freedom can go forth as I walk.

Conversely, all of the things which I agree are good — all the food banks, clothing closets and so on — can be done without the involvement of God at all. Many secular organizations do these things. Maybe there’s something Jesus is warning us about. Maybe He wants us to do the things only God can do — the spiritual things. And at the same time, I believe we are to give actual food to people and actually clothe and shelter them, and all of the other things of which He speaks. But we must do them in His name, and speak His wonderful, life-saving truth while we’re doing it.

The “accursed” call Him “Lord.” I want to be very careful here. I am quite sure they feel they have done the good deeds Jesus describes in these passages, but they are surprised to hear Jesus say they have not done them to Him! Why does He say that? There’s something about the nature of their deeds that, according to Jesus, was not identified with Him. If they love Jesus, they will do everything in His name (having His nature and being His representative). Maybe the ones Jesus calls “accursed” did all these good deeds and when they were finished with them each day, they sinned willfully against God.  If they disobey Him, they do not love Him (John 14:24). If they disobey Him and therefore do not love Him, they do not have His nature but still have the nature they were born with. They cannot represent Him, they cannot do deeds “in His name.” Their deeds are those that anyone could do, Christian or not.

I could never in my own power swap my nature for His. It was done by Him, so I do not boast when I say I am filled with the Holy Spirit — He did it when I cried out to the Father in obedience to Him. He empowers the obedient, filling them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).  Jesus calls us to do what He did when He walked the earth, and greater (John 14:12), but we can’t do those things unless we have His nature in us. The disobedient will not be empowered.

I want to do good deeds; it is important to feed hungry people! I do these myself, out of a sense of their moral “rightness.” But I believe these passages teach us that we must be empowered and purified, so we can do God deeds because we love God with God’s actual love and obey Jesus because we love the Father and Him. I believe this truth runs all through Matthew 25, from the wise virgins who brought oil in vessels and the foolish who did not, to the two servants who multiplied the treasure given to them by God and the one who buried it. Either we do deeds in His name or we don’t.

Those who do deeds in His name (having His nature) are found righteous by Him. I do not believe works save us from being under the wrath of God — the Bible says we are saved by believing in Jesus Christ, and the faith to believe is a gift from God. But Jesus clearly says that if we love Him, we obey Him. I have no capacity in myself to obey Him. But when He filled me with the Holy Spirit, I was filled with God’s actual love so I could love Him and believers and the world as He loves. And in that empowered state, by the grace of God, Jesus can do His deeds  through me and I can do not just good deeds any moral person can do but  good deeds as His representative, having His nature. I believe that’s what He’s getting at in this passage of Scripture.

Now remember, I can only do these things because He’s purified my heart and made me able to love Him with His love. I can do them and then obey Him the rest of the time, too, because of what He has done in my heart. He can work His miracles through me because of the miracle He has worked in me. He fed the thousands miraculously with a few loaves and fish, but not until He had declared the gospel to them, with attesting miracles. I don’t know about you, but I want Jesus to do His miraculous physical and spiritual feeding through me. It’s easy to tell which works are His. They’re awe-inspiring, unexplainable by natural laws and reasoning and range from salvation from the wrath of God to healing of diseases.

Join me as I think about all of this. I’m praying that He may give me greater and greater faith to step out and do His works more and more. Take me from one degree of Your glory to a greater degree, my King! Take me from one degree of looking like You to a greater degree! Oh, may I be Your witness here, and may we all be!

Speaking “Peace, Peace,” When There Is No Peace

Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11  “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.”

Like Jeremiah, I am full of the wrath of the Lord — I am weary of holding it in (Jeremiah 6:11). To whom will I speak and give warning, that they may hear? The ears of my audience are closed (literally, uncircumcised) and they are unable to listen. The word of the Lord has become contemptible to them; they neither hear it nor bend to it (Jeremiah 6:10).

What is the warning I would speak so they may hear? It is like the warning you would give to your beloved grown daughter if you knew she was making a wrong turn in life, a turn that could be devastating to her. You’d try to keep her from making a terrible mistake.

But if she was rebellious throughout her childhood (like I was), she might shut her ears to every word you say — as if there were a membrane covering them, keeping her from hearing even the sound of your words. This membrane grew thicker after each warning. Now she can’t hear you at all.

She might defiantly cry, “I love my life,” even though you can see that she faces potential violence and even death. It might even be that she finds your words to be contemptible. “That’s just Mom again. What does she know?” She might not bend to your good and loving advice. How would you react? Would you be indignant? Would you even be angry, because you know what will happen if she continues in her “wrong turn?”

What makes your daughter continue on the wrong path, despite your warnings? Is it outright rebellion, or is there more to it? Has your daughter has been listening to other people who encourage her to continue down the wrong road after that wrong turn? Maybe she was given some book somewhere that said, “If it feels good, do it,” or “You go your way and I’ll go my way and we’re both OK, no matter what.” Maybe she had a teacher along the way who said, “What’s relevant to you might not be relevant to me. What’s truth to you might not be truth to me. You keep your truth and I’ll keep mine.” You are furious, because you know your daughter is in danger!

But the wrong path she’s on is broad, after all. There are many others for her to confer with on the way. They’re all headed in the same direction. So they confirm her, saying “How cool is this path!” or “Look at all the people who are going with us! What we’re doing is good, because otherwise there wouldn’t be a bunch of people here that think just like us!” But you know that though many enter through this broad path, it leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). You know there is a way that seems right to a man (or woman), but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). There’s a narrow path off to the side, but everyone on the broad path thinks it looks pretty uninteresting. Besides, look how few are on it! It must not be the right path.

Maybe your daughter went to Sunday school as a kid, so she’d learn about Jesus. Now you’re trying to figure out how she could possibly be taking this very wrong path. You did the best you could, you think, to bring her up right. Maybe her home life was very good, with loving parents and nothing to turn her off the straight-and-narrow. How on earth did she get into the mess she’s in? But maybe her teachers said, “Peace, peace” when there was no peace. There’s lots of false teachers of the Bible who say, “God has no problem with you — it’s just your mother being a mother. He loves you even if you ignore or disobey Him.” Or they might have said, “It’s OK to worship other things besides God. I do, and look how blessed I am! See, that’s proof that God doesn’t mind.” How would you feel about a teacher that misled  your daughter that way, telling her things that were pleasing to her ears but not pleasing to you because you knew their advice was wrong?

Well, now that I have your attention, how do you think God feels? He wants to keep you from falling into sin, into error, into the dark pit that has no exit. The Holy Spirit continually cries, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21). He is indignant that you’re not listening. He’s downright angry with you.

Like the people of Judah to whom Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord, you have been rebellious since you were a child (like I was). God’s words through those He sent to you became more and more muffled as your ears became uncircumcised and that membrane grew thicker and thicker. Now you are unable to hear God’s voice at all, through those whom He has sent to you.

You cry defiantly, “I love my life,” and Jesus says, “Then you will lose it” (John 12:25). He does not say this to be cruel, but to turn you back to the path that leads to eternal life. If you will do as He says and put your selfishness and self-centeredness on a cross so those things die, you will live life as God has it. What you’re living now will lead to your destruction. He loves you so much He speaks these shocking words to you.

You have listened to false teachers who tell you that you are free to be whatever you want to be, and to do whatever you want to do. You liked what they said. You enjoyed what you were doing, even though God warned you that it was going to destroy you. It felt good, so you did it, and there were many others doing the same thing. So it must be good, right? Besides, you think, God doesn’t mind if I disobey Him a little bit. It’s not like I’m murdering anyone, you think. The voices of your false teachers echo in your memory, “Peace, peace!” Meanwhile, God is furious, and so are those He sends to you! The gates of hell open wide to receive you. A voice calls out the very words of God to you. But you are set on what you are doing. Dead set.

It wasn’t like Judah didn’t know her God, when Jeremiah was preaching. It isn’t like you don’t know your God, even if you never went to Sunday school. He has made Himself evident to you as you looked at His creation. People who know Him have “crossed your path.” They have spoken the truth about God and Jesus Christ. But what the false teachers said was much more appealing. So, you continue satisfying your own desires. There are no consequences or judgment, you think. And God is angry with you, not because He hates you but because He loves you and knows exactly where you’re headed. Destruction. Judgment. A lake of fire that burns eternally.

O church, O world, I’m not your mother. I’m not God. But He has given me a word for you. Turn! Stop believing false teachers who say, “Peace, peace.” Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask Him to empower you to live for Him. He’ll jump at the chance to give you His power by filling you with the Holy Spirit. Then you will be at peace with God. His is a lasting peace. Don’t reject the gift that God has given you by sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ on the cross for you, in the most horrible death imaginable. Jesus poured His life out for you so He could pour His life and love into you. Don’t be a fool (like I was for 45 years) — repent. The gift of Jesus Christ is a gift that keeps on giving. And you’ll become a gift to those who still have ears to hear.

The Bride Who Is Ready

There’s going to be a wedding! Who’s getting married?

Revelation 21:9-10, 22-27 – In verse 9, “Then one of the seven angels . . .came and spoke with me saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” In verse 10, the bride is like Jerusalem — the Lord is in her. It’s the church! The Bridegroom is the Lamb — Jesus Christ! And looks at how gorgeous she is! Verses 11-27 “Having the glory of God, costly jasper, high walls (protected), gold so pure it is like glass, sapphire, emerald, topaz, amethyst  . . . the glory of God illuminating her, the lamp is the Lamb, no night, nothing unclean.”

That’s one beautiful bride? Was she born that way?

Ephesians 5:25-27    Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He could sanctify her (cleanse, purify) by the Word of God, so that she would be the church glorious (original Greek, the idea being she’s filled with His glory per Psalm 45), having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing — so she would be holy and blameless.

Christ is the one who makes her beautiful! She wasn’t born that way, but He makes her clean and pure and holy and blameless, filled with His glory!

How does Jesus go about making her beautiful?

Ephesians 5:26 –     By the washing of water with the word. He washes her clean and makes her pure and holy by the Word of God.

Ephesians 4:11-13 –    He also gave the bride apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to help her understand the truth and become one in nature with Jesus Christ, full of Him.

2 Corinthians 11:2 –    Paul is an apostle. And so he says to the sinning Corinthians, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” But they are listening to those who preach another Jesus that he has not preached, they have received a different spirit, they have received a different gospel. Beware!
Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

IF THE CORINTHIANS (AND WE) DO NOT HEED THE WORD OF GOD FROM PAUL’S PEN, THEY (AND WE) WILL NOT BE PURE VIRGINS WHEN JESUS COMES.

JESUS SAYS THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH WILL LOOK LIKE, WHEN HE RETURNS (MATTHEW 25:1-13):

Verses 1-2         Some in the church (virgins = engaged to be married) will be wise (understanding, having keen discernment), but some will be foolish  (scorned as being stupid not just in mind, but in heart and  character)!

Verses 3-4        Some bring vessels filled with oil (the Spirit) so they are ready when the Bridegroom comes. Some do not have oil — they’ve lived by the light given to them by others, but have no source with them for the light needed when going to meet the Bridegroom (Christ).

Verse 5            Both the wise and the foolish fall asleep because the Bridegroom delays His coming. Midnight comes.

Verse 6            There’s a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16)! The Bridegroom is coming! Everyone wakes up! They all prepare their lamps to go  and meet Him!

Verse 7-9        The foolish suddenly realize their lamps are going out and they have no oil for them, so they ask the wise for some oil. But the wise tell them to go and buy some (Isaiah 55:1). Those with oil can’t share their oil — each virgin must buy her own oil!

Verse 10        But it’s too late, when the Bridegroom has come, He brings the virgins who are ready into the wedding feast, and shuts the door.

Verse 11-12        The foolish virgins return and ask Him to let them in, saying, “Lord, Lord,” but He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I do not know you (I have never seen you before).” He says in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but you do not do what I say?”

You became saved when you entered into belief in Jesus Christ. But He commands us to obey Him, to do what He says. The one who is obeying Him is the one whose sin nature has been taken away and replaced with Christ’s nature, the one who his filled with the Spirit, the one who is ready when He comes!

Therefore, be ready (Matthew 25:13)! Become a partaker of the divine nature (2  Peter 1:4)! Be a wise virgin! Have oil in your vessel! Be filled with the Spirit!

NOTE: Some interpret the foolish virgins as churchgoers who have never received Jesus as Lord and Savior. I want to be careful here, because when we are saved, Jesus knows us. But in John 15, Jesus speaks of branches that are attached to the Vine, but do not bear fruit. They are attached at first, but then they are cut off because they are not abiding (remaining) in Him. Interpret that as you wish, but I believe it is possible to lose my salvation. Therefore, continue to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). It’s altogether lovely to agree with God as He continues to mold and shape you into the image of His Son. O my Potter! Continue to spin me on Your wheel, for Your glory!

Beholding the Lord’s Glory

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

Do you want to behold the Lord’s glory? If the Spirit of the Lord is in you, you will behold His glory! I’ll explain, but first we need to know a little bit more about who God is, through His interactions with Moses.

Exodus 33:1-11 — After his first visit to Mt. Sinai, where did Moses go to meet with YHWH (the LORD)? He pitched a tent (the Tent of Meeting) outside the camp, a good distance away.

Why wasn’t the Tent of Meeting in the camp? Because of the people’s sin (worshiping the golden calf). God’s presence and sin cannot occupy the same space. In v. 3, the LORD  said He would not be in their midst because of their sin.

Those who sought the LORD went  out to the Tent of Meeting. Moses was their intermediary — they’d ask him, and he’d ask the LORD. When Moses went to the Tent, all the people would arise and stand outside their tents, and gaze after Moses until he entered. They worshiped as the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the entrance. The pillar of cloud was the sign that the LORD was speaking with Moses, as if they were speaking face-to-face.

Exodus 33:18-23 After convincing the LORD to go up with all Israel and not just Moses himself, Moses cried out, “I pray you, show me Your glory!” Hallelujah! He wanted to see the kabod of God, the weightiness. He wanted to intimately know the LORD. The LORD agreed, but would let Moses see His back, but not His face. He promised to hide Moses in the cleft of the rock while His glory passed by.

Exodus 34:1-5 The LORD commanded Moses to return to Mt. Sinai with two more stone tablets, to replace the ones Moses smashed when he came down the first time and discovered the people were sinning. The LORD’s finger would again engrave the Ten Commandments on the new stones. And at that time, the LORD revealed His glory to Moses, just as He had promised. Thus, the Ten Commandments were received “in glory.”

Exodus 34:29-35 When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, his face shone with the LORD’s glory. He didn’t know it. Because of his shining face, the people were afraid (in dread and terror-stricken) because the glory, the weightiness, the presence of God lingered on Moses’ face. They didn’t want to get near him. I believe it was because they were sinning. Then the congregation was commanded to come near, and after he spoke with them, he put a veil over his face. The same happened when he went into the Tent of Meeting — Moses’ face shone from being in the LORD’s presence, and he veiled is face until he went in again. So, Moses veiled his face to hide the LORD’s glory because the people were terrified.

Now, back to 2 Corinthians 3:17-18:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The Lord is the Spirit. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. So the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Lord and the Holy Spirit are the same thing. Where the Spirit is, there is “liberty,” which literally means “freedom from slavery.” Slavery to what? Slavery to sin. Paul tells us in Romans 6:7, 18, and 22 that we who have received the baptism of Christ — the baptism of the Holy Spirit — have been set free from sin. Jesus promises freedom from slavery to sin in John 8:31-36 for His followers who continue in His word. Glory to God! If the Spirit is in us, we are set free from slavery to sin. We can be delivered from our sinfulness! Therefore . . . we can behold the Lord’s glory. We can be in the presence of God!

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

“Unveiled face” — Moses’ glory faded (v. 7-11). We have the glory on our faces because we have the Spirit dwelling in us, the Spirit who gives us freedom from slavery to sin! We’re not afraid to behold the glory . . . we have the glory in us!  And our glory does not fade, nor are we to hide it. His glory in us is  supposed to be seen by everyone.

Moses ministered death, for the Ten Commandments convict us of sin, and we stand as dead men unless we come to Christ to have our sins forgiven and our hearts purified. Christ ministered righteousness, giving us His righteousness — not as something we could us as a cover for our sins like Adam and Eve’s fig leaves, but something that would change us inwardly to be righteous, like Him. We become (“might become” isn’t in the original Greek) the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Now, that ministry of death, the Ten Commandments, came in glory — Moses saw the LORD’s glory! But think of it — Jesus Christ ministered righteousness, the Holy Spirit changing us inwardly. That’s far more glorious! The glory Christ brings, by the Holy Spirit making us inwardly righteous, surpasses Moses’ ministry!

Because we’ve become inwardly righteous by the Holy Spirit inwardly changing us, we are described as “Beholding as in a mirror the Lord’s glory” — We behold the glory of the Lord. How? By looking in a “mirror.”

What mirror? The glory of God is in the face of Christ (4:6).
We look at Christ and we behold the glory of the Lord.

Where is the face of Christ? In the WORD OF GOD, THE
BIBLE. That is where you see Him! That’s the mirror! You can’t see much until you’re filled with the Holy Spirit. But then, He lights up the Word of God so we can see deeply into it. Deeper and deeper we go!
“Transformed into the same image” — When we look at Jesus, we look like Jesus. Then God’s glory is in our unveiled faces.

“From glory to glory” — The more we look at Jesus’ face, the more we look like Jesus. We go on and on, from glory to glory to glory to glory, as we continue to look at the face of Jesus, in whom the glory of God is seen, in the Word of God!!!

“From the Lord, the Spirit” — Who sees Jesus this way?
–Not the unspiritual man. Spiritual things are foolishness, in his eyes. (1 Corinthians 2:14

–Not the infant in Christ. He does not understand spiritual things. (1 Corinthians 3:1)

— The one who sees Jesus this way is the one who is filled with the Holy Spirit! This is the one who is set free from                              sin so he can behold the glory as he looks at Jesus Christ!

You might ask, “Why should I want this?” I’m saved, I’m going to heaven. Isn’t that enough?”

Well, you should want it because you love Jesus and want to obey Him. (Why wouldn’t you want this?)

Your “Take-Away”

Be filled with the Spirit because:

You’ll be set free from slavery to sin.
THEN . . .
You’ll behold the Lord’s glory in Jesus’ face in the Word of God.
His glory will shine from you.
The world will know the Father sent Jesus Christ and loves you as He loves Him.
You’ll do what Jesus did on the earth, and greater.
It’s the will of God.

Therefore, having such a hope, I speak like Paul and Timothy in v. 12. I speak with great boldness. I am outspoken, blunt, and frank. Do you believe the glory of the Lord shines from you, right now? If not, confess your sins and turn from them. He will be faithful to forgive your sins AND cleanse you of all unrighteousness, filling you with His Spirit so you can behold His glory and shine forth as a witness of Him!

So That the World May Know

What was Jesus praying in John 17? He was praying for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:24-27:

Ezek 36:24    We will see in John 17 that Jesus asks the Father to separate us from the nations (a type of the world) and bring us into full fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — that means being truly sanctified, filled with the Spirit — truly our Promised Land until heaven!

Ezek 36:25    There must be a cleansing, a washing away of all things we hold dearer than God (for these are our idols), replaced by total devotion to Him.

Ezek 36:26    Besides cleansing (“moreover”), the Father will also give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us; we will see at as we go to John 17. Hearts of stone are stubborn and go their own way. He will remove our stony hearts and replace them with hearts of flesh that respond to Him.

Ezek 36:27    So that we fully understand how this will happen, the Lord clarifies — God will put His Spirit literally within us and cause us to obey Him, not as robots but because His Spirit unites us, giving us His nature, so we want what He wants. Self-centered thinking and stubbornness are banished. The Father does all of this for His sake (v. 22), for the sake of His holy name which His stubborn people profane with their self-centeredness.

NOTE: In John 17, Jesus is praying not only for the disciples, but for ALL believers (look at v. 20)!

First, we must note the qualities Jesus ascribes to His disciples in the first few verses of John 17: They were the Father’s, given to the Son, and they have kept the Father’s word (v. 6), they have come to know that everything Jesus has came from the Father (v. 7), they received Jesus’ words and truly understood He came from the Father and was sent by Him (v. 8), the world has hated them because they are not of the world (v.v. 14 & 16). They are certainly Christians, by all of our standards of measurement.

But Jesus prays because something must happen in all believers SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW:

We as believers are sent out by Jesus (v. 21);
The Father sent Jesus (v. 23); and
The Father loved all believers with the very same love He has for Jesus (v. 23):

Here is what must happen, as I interpret the words of Jesus Christ:

John 17:13     Now Jesus is coming to the Father, but one essential element is missing, the element that will make it SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW. The result     of Jesus’ request, made even while He’s still on the earth, will be that His joy will literally fill them up inside!! Jesus is praying, “Now, Father, now! Do what You promised in Ezekiel now!”

John 17:17    Jesus prays for the Father to sanctify all believers truly, to purify them. They are already set apart and have been following Him. We have seen the great qualities they already possess. But the disciples (and we) must be purified, and it will be by the Father’s word, given to Jesus. The Father’s word isn’t just true, it is truth. It is the reality behind all that we  see.

John 17:18    Jesus prays for what will come next, even though it is not fulfilled until Pentecost (Acts 2:4). In the same way (with the same nature) that Jesus was sent by the Father, Jesus now sends all believers who have been truly sanctified, filled with His Spirit.

John 17:19    So that we don’t miss it, Jesus Christ repeats that He has set Himself apart, coming into the world and giving Himself, even to death on a cross, so that all believers may be truly sanctified. He explains what “truly sanctified” is, in verse 21.

John 17:20    This prayer is for all believers!

John 17:21    When all believers are truly sanctified, they will be of the same nature. “One” in this case refers not to a superficial unity, but to complete unity of nature and Spirit. How do I know this? Jesus goes on to describe the “oneness” — just the same as the Father is literally located within Christ and Christ is literally located in Him, Jesus prays for all believers to be literally located within the Father and the Son, asking in His name, having His nature (as we talked about in my teaching on John 14). The result? THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS CHRIST.

Extra bonus, not in the sermon: There’s no “may” in the original Greek. It is SO THAT THE WORLD BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS CHRIST.

John 17:22    There is a glory that will come into all believers when this happens — it is the Holy Spirit. He comes to dwell in us, giving us an indwelling Father, Son and Spirit. Again, this is so  that all believers will have the same nature as the Father and the Son, just as the Father and Son have the same nature.

John 17:23    Jesus explains again that He is to be literally located within us, just as the Father is literally located within the Son. This will cause us to be perfected in unity (Greek: completed “into one”, made alike) — truly sanctified, with the same nature as the Father and the Son. The result? THE WORLD WILL KNOW THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS, AND LOVED ALL BELIEVERS WITH THE SAME LOVE HE HAS FOR JESUS. This is agape, the very love of God!

John 17:24    We know that Jesus is preparing a place for us, from John 14:2. Now He prays for all believers to be with Him. Why? So they may see Him in glory, lifted high and exalted, the glory Jesus had in the beginning and that the Father has given Him again. He is the Beloved of the Father!

John 17:26    Jesus made the Father’s name (His nature) known to all to His disciples. At Pentecost, He will make it known even more so, because God’s love,  His actual love, and Jesus Himself, will be literally located within:
The disciples, when they are filled with the Spirit at Pentecost
All believers, when they experience their own Pentecost

JUST AS THE DISCIPLES IN ACTS 1 AND 2, WE MUST SIT BEFORE THE LORD AND PRAY TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, CLOTHED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH AS JESUS COMMANDED IN LUKE 24:49, FILLED WITH THE ACTUAL LOVE OF GOD.

WHY? JESUS PAID A PRICE GREATER THAN WE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND, SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THROUGH US!

Promises to Those Who Believe

These are notes from a message I gave on Sunday, 6/5/11. May your heart be stirred, in Jesus’ name.

By “Those Who Believe,” I mean those who have entered through the portal from life as you knew it to life in Christ. I mean those who have entered through the Door and have been changed to the point where everyone around you sees the change in you! Glory to God! If you are one of these, here are His promises to you, from John 14:1-24, with interpretation of the original Greek.

14:1 Your heart will not in the least be roiled up like the ocean in a storm (I did not say “let not” as your Bible may say) because you have obeyed My command to believe in God and in Me.

14:2-3 I will come again and take you to the place I am preparing for you so you may be with Me.

14:4-6 You will know (fully perceive) the way — Me!

14:7-9 You will intimately and fully know the Father and Me, and you will recognize the Father in Me. (I am the exact representation of His nature — Hebrews 1:3)

14:10-12 I do My Father’s works, because I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. The Father’s works themselves cause many to believe.

If, like Me, you are in the Father and the Father is in you, then truly, truly,  you will do My Father’s works, the same works I did (now think, “What are the works that Jesus did?). You will do those things.

You will do greater than these: I did not impart the Holy Spirit to others while I was on the earth (John 7:37). I had to return to My Father first. [Because you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, you will be able to impart  Him to others so they also are filled with Him. This is the “greater” that you will do.]

14:13 You will have My nature and can therefore ask in My name. You will no longer have the sin nature you were born with. Therefore, you will be able to ask and I will give whatever you ask. [The Holy Spirit in you makes you able to ask in My name. I said to my disciples, “Until now, you have not asked in My name” (John 16:24).]

PURPOSE: The Father will be glorified through Me when You do My works in My name. Doing so proves I am the living Son of God, sent by Him.

14:14 I repeat so you understand it is very important. When you have My nature,  you can ask Me anything in My name, and I will do it.

14:15 If you love (agape) Me with the same love with which the Father loves Me, you will obey Me just like I obey the Father. [You must love and obey Me in order for me to do what you ask Me to do. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey (Acts 5:32).

NOTE: The word “and” is not included in some translations of the Bible, but it is in the original Greek text. There is a relationship between obedience and what He will ask the Father to do.

14:16-17 My Father will give you another Helper, one who is like Me. He will be with you forever. This Helper is the Holy Spirit (see verse 26). You will  intimately know the Holy Spirit because He will be literally located in you.

14:19 You will see Me; You will gaze at Me, behold and discern Me and  experience Me. I am alive with zoe, life as God has it. Because I have zoe (eternal life, life as God has it), you will have zoe.

14:20  Because the day has come that I have risen and am glorified, and have given you the same zoe that I have, You will absolutely know:

–I have the Father’s nature and am literally located in Him
–You have My nature and are literally located in Me
–I am literally located within you

14:21 I know who loves Me — the one who obeys Me. If you love Me:

–My Father will love you
–I will love you
–I will disclose Myself to you (I will clearly show you that I am real, and you will will clearly see Me)

14:23  I know who loves Me — the one who obeys Me. If you love Me:

–My Father will love you
–My Father and I will come to you
–My Father and I will dwell literally inside you

14:24   If you do not love Me, you do not obey Me. This word is not Mine, but      the Father’s who sent Me. [Those who love Me obey Me. Those who do not love Me disobey Me.]

The great thing about comparing ourselves to God’s Word is this: If we find we do not have Christ’s nature in us, we can ask Him for His nature. He’ll say, “I’m glad you asked!” and give it to you. If we find, when we stand beside the plumb line of His Word, that we are not plumb, we can cry out to the Father, “I’m not plumb . . . make me plumb!” We don’t have the power to change ourselves, but He promises that He will put a new heart in us, as He says in Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV): “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Then we will have His nature and all of the promises of John 14 are ours, for His glory!

Forgive Me

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was in desperate need. She was very sick and a nursing home loomed in her darkened future. She was without God in the world. She had no hope. Jesus Christ graciously shined His light on her, healed her body, saved her soul and empowered her to serve Him. She could hardly contain her joy! He illuminated His Word to her, and gave her preaching and teaching gifts. She pursued her call with everything that was in her, so grateful for His life in her and for the freedom only He could give!

She was zealous for His Word and for Him, but her zeal became twisted along the way. She became like a bloodhound, sniffing out anything that didn’t look like her ministry. She roo-roo-rooed away at anything that didn’t seem right to her. She didn’t see that those she sniffed out were serving, too. She didn’t see that they loved the Lord just as she did, and even more. She didn’t see that Father God can work in a myriad of unusual ways, by the Holy Spirit. She carried a gavel around in her hand, not to condemn, but to correct, correct, correct, to set right all who were wrong — churches, leaders, other denominations and ministries.

One day, Jesus tenderly spoke to the woman, and showed her that she was striking His body with her gavel. She fell on her face, weeping. She asked Him to take the gavel from her outstretched hand. In His grace and mercy, He took it.

Forgive me.

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Sue