“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33)
This book is not about church organizations or structures. It is about the people who make up the universal Christian church of Spirit-born believers around the world. Get people personally connected to Jesus Christ, and He can then capably take it from there to produce the positive results we read about in the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible.
A genuine reformation in the Christian church begins with repentance, prayer, Bible study, listening in the Spirit, and a heartfelt desire for genuine discipleship.
But a fundamental reality in the world is that not many people listen to the words of the true prophet at the moment the message is being delivered. This is primarily due to the vertical separation between the message of the prophet’s speech in the elevated realm of faith and trust in God, and how well people in-the-moment have the capacity for listening “in the Spirit” (Mt. 11:15; Acts 27:9-11).
Most people going about their normal lives have their vision focused horizontally upon day-to-day concerns, and are not contemplating the higher ways of God in their daily affairs (Isa. 55:8-9).
But a true prophet of God is always trying to elevate people’s spiritual vision up into the higher realm of daily living combined with “walking in the Spirit.”
This is the location where faith and trust in God can produce divinely orchestrated outcomes coupled with profound character growth. This is also the area where resistance to change and the element of risk reside.
This is why for many people the sudden introduction of the message of God through a prophet is often a jarring and unwelcome event. The prophet’s message can be a nettlesome intrusion into our otherwise normative, complacent, worldly sensible plans.
Israel historically revered their prophets in hindsight, and went to great efforts to accurately record, maintain, and pass along the sayings and writings of their prophets. But many of the biblical prophets were persecuted and rejected by their contemporaries at the time they delivered their messages (Jer. 1:19).
It is a relatively safe exercise to look backwards in time in nostalgic appreciation for the purely intellectual component of the prophet’s message, conveniently removed into the history of centuries past.
It is a relatively safe enterprise to endorse the ancient prophet’s fiery call for personal repentance, a heartfelt change in our lives, and the challenge to step-up into a biblical-style adventure of faith (Mt. 23:20), as long as this message can be interpreted to apply to past generations of our wayward ancestors…and not directly to us.
A Spirit-filled prophetic call to surrender all to Jesus today, in full consideration of the costs and benefits involved, can be just as sobering a challenge for us now as it was for the Old Testament Jews listening to Moses, Samuel, Elijah, or Jeremiah.
The unique aspect of the final chapter of the Christian church in the last days…is that there will not be a future, upcoming, extended period of time in human redemptive history on earth…to nostalgically look back upon the present-day words of prophets…calling people to a higher and deeper experience following Jesus Christ…in-the-moment…right now.
The second coming of Christ brings an end to this current human redemptive period…for all time.
This interaction between God and people set within the context of life’s events and circumstances, having mutual faith and trust as the bonding cement of the relationship…is not found anywhere else in philosophy, religion, or human experience.
The validating element of this arrangement is authenticated by the reality that the living God must actively take up His part of the relationship.
Like playing catch with a baseball, someone real has to be on the opposite side to catch the ball and throw it back. In the case of a biblical journey of faith, the one true God invented the game and openly invites all to participate.
The entire Bible can be interpreted as God’s attempt to get us to release our faith and elevate our vision up into the realm where God can effectively work with us. This is actually a key aspect of the Bible that confirms its divine origin.
The component of God’s active out-reach toward us is something that cannot be fabricated by human invention. The callings of God, and the ingenious and varied narrative stories that follow the enlistment of each person of faith recorded in the Bible, are totally outside the imagination and literary invention of man.
One classic example of God trying to get people’s vision raised above the horizontal, everyday thinking…is recorded in Mark 12:13-17.
The Pharisees and Herodians come to Jesus, and ask Him: “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” These opponents of Jesus think they have Him intellectually cornered with this cleverly devised question which appears to offer no positive option within the worldly horizontal realm of practical concerns. Answering yes or no strictly within the bounds of conventional wisdom…spells trouble either way.
Telling the Jews not to pay their taxes offends the Roman government. Telling Jews to dutifully pay their taxes to the hated foreign occupiers offends the populace in the very sensitive area of Jewish national pride and in the practical area of their pocketbooks.
But Jesus brilliantly lifts this issue up a level into the elevated realm of the Spirit, above our horizontal vision. Jesus asks the Pharisees to show Him a coin, asks whose image is engraved on the coin, and then unexpectedly divides the answer to their question into two distinct vertical zones.
Part one of the fully correct answer…is to render faithfully to the demands of the everyday practical world that which belongs to the everyday world…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
Part two of the answer is to render to God the living faith and trust that can only occur within the elevated realm of the adventures of faith following God, which up until that time were vividly and clearly portrayed throughout the Hebrew Bible.
This ingenious answer by Jesus to this otherwise difficult question has intrigued skeptics and admirers of Jesus for almost 2,000 years. The Pharisees and Herodians shake their heads and walk away in amazement at this answer of Jesus. In its brevity it fully addressed all sides of the issue of practical godliness in this broken world, having the clear bell-ring of truth that left no further opening for a follow-up question.
This succinct answer by Jesus is inarguable and unassailable in its pinpoint accurate truthfulness, because it’s simple depth and scope fully encapsulates God’s program for all humanity in a nutshell.