Why I Believe That The CHURCH Is The Solution, Part 3
In the previous post we set the stage for the coming of the Great Messiah, Savior of the world, and King & Lord of the universe, to touch down on planet Earth. For centuries prior to that moment, the history of the Hebrew nation carries with it the prophetic hope that eventually, from its genetic roots as the chosen people of God, God would intervene in the growing chaos of the human condition and re-establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. There were times of great reform where righteousness and justice prevailed only to be followed by protracted times of rebellion where darkness and gloom blanketed the earth. All this to prove that humanity was not capable of healing itself and nachash was digging in its heels and reinforcing its position as the evil lord of planet Earth.
The scriptures paint this picture of hope as coming to the earth “at just the right time” -
[Isa 49:8 NLT] This is what the LORD says: "At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”
This “right time” was the basis for the hope of salvation and a coming Savior. The emphasis in the prophecy was not only on the Savior Who was coming but also on the means by which this salvation would be completed - “through you.” The “you” is both the Messiah and His people. The coming Messiah would have an army of liberated people through whom He would accomplish this salvific mission of restoring Earth and re-establishing humanity’s place of governing the planet as God’s rightful delegates. This statement, “through you” was much more inclusive than just the nation of Israel (to their chagrin). This liberation army’s ranks would be filled with people from every tribe, race, culture, and color - the original and true rainbow coalition.
This “right time” happened in history, and in fact divided history into a before and after (B.C./A.D.). Its impact opened Heaven for humanity and created Hell for the devil and its demon hordes. Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine and Judea declaring war on darkness and gathering a core of recruits that would later become a powerful army. It is the makeup and mission of this army that we must look at in order to answer the statement of why I believe that the Church is the solution to the persistent problems on planet Earth.
The first order of business is to clearly define the mission of Jesus. Most who adhere to the Christian faith would agree that the central focus of the incarnation was for God to save humanity from the ravages of sin. We see this in the teaching and doctrine of the substitutional and sacrificial death of Jesus, and the saving power of the resurrection to bring humanity back into a state of harmony with God. For many, this act of God is a very individualized and internalized religious experience initiated by God to bring His children back into relationship with Himself and populate Heaven. In our Western paradigm for personalizing religion this fits just fine. One’s religious preferences should not be promulgated dogmatically as that would violate the personal religious space of others. We tend to value the personal practice of spirituality and suppress (many times persecute) any systematic proclamation of a religion that is “narrow minded” and requires personal surrender. What is at the core of Christianity?
While it is true that Christianity must be individualized, the decision to accept the gracious gift of Salvation that God is offering can only be made by the free-will decision of the one receiving the gift. There is no place for coercion. However, the language that Jesus and the New Testament writers used speak of a much wider corporate expression of what Christianity is. Examining these statements reveals an agenda much broader than populating Heaven with converts. It appears that Jesus is preaching a gospel that includes recruiting converts to join an army of believers that will become a coalition to bring Heaven to Earth. Here are a few examples to consider.
[Matt. 4:23 NASB] Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (emphasis added)
Right from the get-go, Jesus establishes and clarifies His mission. This phrase, the Gospel of the Kingdom, is peppered all over the New Testament. This statement incorporates so much more than the message of hope and salvation. It incorporates the understanding that God’s Kingdom (His governmental rule, power, justice, authority, etc.) is coming to (back to) the earth. In essence, Jesus is announcing that this is the “right time” that the prophets had been prophesying would eventually come. Jesus is not only on the planet to preach salvation to people, He is proclaiming dominion over the earth and He is actively recruiting a few good women and men to form the core of an army.
Consider a few other references…
Jesus teaches His disciples to pray that the will of God be done on the earth by establishing the Kingdom (Matt. 6:10)
Jesus states that if demons are being cast out by His hand and command then the Kingdom of God has come (Matt. 12:28)
Jesus stated His healing of the sick was a sign that the Kingdom of God had come to Earth (Luke 10:9)
Most of the parables that Jesus spoke had within them analogies of what the Kingdom of God was like if it was actively functioning on the earth
The Kingdom of God is the central message of Jesus. The revelation and unfolding of the Kingdom of God on the earth is progressive. It was established then, is advancing now, and its fullness is yet to come. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God had come to Earth with His incarnation and the Kingdom of God is coming to Earth in its fullness at His returning. In between these two events, the Church of Jesus finds its purpose and mission. Jesus made it very clear that His people were to carry on with His Kingdom agenda. He trained them, activated them, and before He left the planet, He commissioned them.
The Great Commission...
[Matt. 28:18-20 NASB] And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "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." (emphasis added)
In His parting words, Jesus states that universal authority was now in His rightful possession after His defeat of death and destruction that came through the devil and its demons. Authority can be defined as the right to rule. God has and always will have the right to rule everything by nature of Who He is. He is the source of all authority (Romans 13:1). However, in His sovereignty, when God created humanity He endowed them with delegated authority and commissioned them to rule the Earth on His behalf. In a sense, God limited His authoritative reach on the planet to come through His interactions and partnerships with humans (Amos 3:7). That is a sobering thought!
This is precisely why the human side of the incarnation is so critical. In order for heavenly authority to be restored on the planet it had to come through a partnership between God and a perfectly submitted human to enact the will of the creator on the earth. What was stolen by nachash through deception and rebellion was taken back by the perfect humility and obedience of Jesus (John 5:30). At the moment of His ascension Jesus re-delegates the authority of Heaven to the people who He had trained and mentored for more than 3 years. He is leaving heavenly authority in the hands of men and women who proved time and again their fallibility! (More to come on this delegated authority in a later post).
The Father and the Son had a perfect partnership in establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. They were in perfect unity in every aspect. We, as believers, are now invited into that partnership to work with them with full rights to rule on their behalf. This seems to me to be a risky business move. Along with granting us full rights and privileges in this authority, we have also retained the rights to exercise our own will in measuring out this delegated authority. This creates a tenuous balance of authority that believers will have to share in order for the whole enterprise not to implode through infighting. So what is the plan of Jesus to ensure that the delegated authority on the earth would stay in lock-step with the authority of Heaven?
This plan would have to be expansive and universal in scope. This plan would have to be able to transcend cultures and continents. This plan would need to have built-in structures that could unify all believers into a universal, cohesive unit that could march in harmony with Heaven. This plan must have checks and balances that would provide safety from nachash invaders who would try to enter into its ranks and rile up a rebellion. This plan must grant access to all the power and resources of Heaven in order to operate at full capacity on the earth. In short, this plan must be perfectly engineered and designed to hold the weight of ALL AUTHORITY that will be given to it without crumbling under the glory that is assigned to it. This plan must represent Heaven on Earth.
Wow, what an enterprise! Every earthly government that has ever reached for the highest ideals for humanity have scratched and clawed its way to incorporate just a scant few of these qualities. None have ever reached these lofty ideals and none, except for the Kingdom of God, ever will. The hope of the world is not a new world order with a one world government. This is the counterfeit and best that nachash has to offer. It is doomed before it begins. The hope is the invasion of the Kingdom in all of its glory. The invasion was initiated when Jesus stepped foot on the planet. The hope has now been placed into the hands of the Church. This is serious business to Jesus, therefore, it must be serious business to us. I will leave you with one thought to ponder before we unveil the Church of Jesus in all of its splendor…
[Isa 9:6-7 NASB] For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of [His] government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
by Pastor Jim Anan