Monthly Archives: March 2009

Laboring in the Kingdom of God

hard work laboring in God's Kingdom
In 1 Peter 2:4f, Peter said that Christ was a living stone, He indeed is the foundation. Peter then says that we also are living stones, we are the building blocks of God’s spiritual house. This type metaphor is found throughout Scripture. We are the building blocks and we are being built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. God’s Word says that He does not dwell in buildings made with hands any longer, but rather He now dwells in us.

With this type of metaphor in mind, look at the book of 1 Kings 5. This is the description of Solomon building the Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s desire was to build a house for God. As I began to read this in light of the New Testament revelation that God no longer dwells in buildings made with hands, but rather now dwells inside the “temple of man’s heart”. I said to myself Lord, why did you allow Solomon to build this temple if it wasn’t your desire to dwell in this type of a sanctuary made with hands. This thought perplexed me, along with the fact that in Kings there are continual references to the great wisdom that God had given to Solomon:

1 Kings 3:12 (NASB)

12 behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.

1 Kings 4:29-30 (NASB)

29 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.

30 Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

1 Kings 5:12 (NASB)

12 The LORD gave wisdom to Solomon, just as He promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a covenant.

I said to myself, “If the wisdom that God gave Solomon was so divine, why didn’t he just fast forward him a thousand or so years so that he could realize that this wasn’t were God wanted to dwell. After all doesn’t God know the end from the beginning.” Then it hit me, the building of the temple was typology, it was parable. God is using a natural presentation to reveal spiritual truth. Let’s just look at one example of this:

1 Kings 5:15-18 (NASB)

15 Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters, and 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains,

16 besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief deputies who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work.

17 Then the king commanded, and they quarried great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house with cut stones.

18 So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the Gebalites cut them, and prepared the timbers and the stones to build the house.

Just as Solomon sent out laborers into the mountains or into the place where mountains are, the wilderness. So also God sends out laborers for the Kingdom of God. The picture we have is hewers of stone, WOW! what a picture that is. Just picture thousands of men using sharp instruments and chiseling away at a huge mountain to extract what would we become great and costly stones. These stones are valuable and are precious to the owner or the buyer of them. In the same way we are chiseled out of the mountain of this world by laborers in the kingdom and the invisible cloud of witnesses. The salvation that we enjoy today is the fruit of the labors of those not only laboring in our lifetime, but all who have labored in the past, so that Christ may be formed in us.

Unfortunately, in modern times we have a watered down presentation of the Kingdom of God, which is really just a pseudo version of the real thing. It is so easy now to become a Christian, just buy a Bible and go to church and say the name Jesus and you are in. However, the real thing is much different Jesus said that if we were to follow Him we must pick up our cross daily. Paul, said that he dies daily and furthermore he thanked God that through the cross not only did he die to this world, but the world had died to him. The things of this world had become strangely dim to him, in the presence of the light revealed through the Cross of Jesus. So in the real Christian life, in the real building of God’s temple if someone becomes a living stone for him, it is through the laboring and the chipping and chiseling away of the old life until something precious is formed. I think of preachers who hammer and hammer away the gospel message to a rebellious, lost and dying generation. Men like John Wesley who use to preach in the streets and anywhere he could find. It was John Wesley who famously quoted: “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” Men trying desperately to bring light to those who are completely caught up in the deep darkness and the powers of this present age. I picture saints on their knees weeping day and night, night and day, laboring before God on behalf of those who are on the broad and wide path to destruction. There is far to little of that kind of laboring in these modern times.

Notice that is says that these costly stones would be the foundation of God’s temple. Isn’t it interesting that the Bible tells us that there are foundational ministries:

Ephesians 2:20-21 (NASB)

20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord

Everyone has different scenarios and circumstances on how they came to know the Lord and become “born again”, even our experiences after conversion can vary depending on the particular call of God on our lives. One thing is for certain, no one who is called into the office of an apostle or prophet does so without being hewn, chiseled, scraped, molded and fashioned out of this corrupt world. To understand exactly what I am trying to say, consider the labors of Paul in God’s Kingdom. Would you want to give up your cozy little position in the church choir to endure what Paul endured:

2 Corinthians 11:23-29 (NASB)

23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.

24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.

25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

In times past, the gospel has progressed only when there have been laborers, vessels prepared by God who are willing to do the work of the kingdom. We need once again, hewers of the rock, laborers who will go out into the wilderness and chisel out of the mountain of this world, precious stones for God. It is interesting that in Scripture the mountain was always a place where God gave revelation of Himself to man. It was at Mt. Sinai, where God wanted to meet with Israel. It was at that mountain where God spoke with Moses. It was at the Mt. of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven in view of His disciples. It will be this same mountain where Jesus will return and reveal Himself to man once more, this time as Judge instead of Savior. In the same way no one can become a living stone for God unless they have an encounter with Him as He in fact is in Himself. It is through this revelation of God that man is hewn, it is through this and only this that we can be transformed from something dead into something living.

…..to be continued

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The Coming of the Lawless One and His False Gospel

upside-down-cross2The book of 2 Thessalonians, is a prophetic book because within its pages, Paul gives us several prophetic details concerning the end of the age and the time of the Second Coming of Christ. He begins to speak about the lawless one being revealed, the one whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth when He returns to the earth. This lawless one of course is the antichrist. When I was first introduced to this shadowy character at the beginning of my Christian walk, I had the picture in my mind that he would primarily be a political figure. The Bible reveals that initially, he will appear on the world scene as a man of not just ideas, but also solutions. He will be instrumental in bringing a false peace to the Middle East conflict and he will do many other things such as this, of course afterwards his true colors will be revealed. As I read in 2 Thessalonians, I am beginning to see this “lawless one” not just as political figure, but also a spiritual or religious world leader. First of all lets examine the Scripture:

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 (NASB)

8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

When he appears on the world’s stage, he will seem as a mystic of sorts. He will not appear as just another political superstar with colorful rhetoric and charismatic oratory skills. Surely he will be a man of charisma and charm, however the Bible clearly tells us his appearing will as be associated with a flurry of supernatural activity and happenings. There will be signs and wonders, there will be a show of power, however, obviously this will not be power from the creator, but rather it will come forth from “the one” who wants to destroy us.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NASB)

10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,

12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Jesus, said that before His return the gospel would be preached to all the earth. In fact, this is one of the “signs” of his return. We currently live in the age of internet and satellite television. There is not a place in the earth today that you can go and not have access to gospel preaching. In fact anyone that can access a computer can pull up the Bible in hundreds, if not thousands of different translations and languages. Unfortunately, in the same way that the gospel is being spread throughout the entire earth, so will this new religion of the Antichrist also cover the globe. Through satellite television and internet and even cell phones, billions of people world wide will witness the inception of this new phenomenal religion as presented forth by our up and coming world leader.

God in His mercy and grace allowed the gospel of righteousness to come forth first. It is the gospel of the Messiah, who didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to hang on a cross for our sins. (This is in stark contrast to Antichrist, who will come to be served.) He has allowed this knowledge to go throughout the earth for over 2000 years. The Word of God says that “it is his desire that none should perish, but that all would be saved.” Can we see God’s grace here!!! The True gospel came first to the whole world and lasted 2000 thousand years, this false gospel will come second and last no more than a decade. Everyone of us has had a chance to embrace righteousness and repent of our sins, however this passage is speaking to the world an ominous warning: Everyone who has not received the gospel of truth, WILL be deceived, they WILL believe the lie and they WILL enter into God’s severe judgment. Look at what is says in verse 11, GOD will be the one who will send this deluding influence. Doesn’t this one passage just throw a wrench into all of our superficial theology about God’s false love. Sure He is a God of love to those of us who have embraced the greatest act of love, the cross, but He is a God of wrath unto those who have shaken their fist in His face and trampled under foot the blood of Jesus. God is beginning to shout through His vessels, BELIEVE THE TRUTH! He is equipping and sending forth His messengers. Will we listen or will we perish. I want to close this brief exhortation with the words of Paul found in the 1st chapter of 2 Thessalonians:

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NASB)

6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,

8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.

Who then will receive His retribution? …..”those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel.”

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